T-Mobile today announced that it is shutting down its Sidekick online contacts and data storage service on May 31, in a move to revamp the seminal device with Android software later this year.
The Bellevue, Wash.-based carrier said it will give customers several options to transfer stored data before the cut-off date, marking the official end of a particularly ill-fated stumbling block. In the meantime, the company is planning to release a new Android-based line of Sidekick phones later this spring, rebuilding the device with 4G speeds, using HSPA-plus technology. An early registration page indicates the new Sidekick may be launching sooner than later. No specifics were disclosed.
Microsoft, which bought Danger in 2008 for $500 million, had ambitions to compete with the ascending iPhone by Apple. However, the Danger team focused its attention on the ill-fated Kin phones and service, which were originally supposed to incorporate gaming and social networking. The project suffered setbacks and delays, and eventually was released with reduced functionality and no games or instant messaging. The device ultimately failed to find traction, and Microsoft eventually shut the doors on the Kin two months later.
Adding insult to injury, the Danger service also suffered an embarrassing outage in October 2009, indicating the lack of resources and efforts that Microsoft was putting into the service.
In the meanwhile, a separate group built Windows Phone 7, a platform that Microsoft would eventually pin its mobile hopes on. That mobile operating system, which also struggled to find success, is now the software centerpiece of an alliance with Nokia.
The end of service also means the effective end of the Sidekick for T-Mobile. Launched in 2002, the iconic device was one of the first smartphones, finding a cachet among celebrities and technology-savvy teens. But with the release of the iPhone and other touch screen devices, its appeal has waned in recent years.