Archive for the 'Editorials' Category

Cellphone Chris’s Letter to T-Mobile/Danger

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Chris posted the following in a comment, but I thought it was worth highlighting in a dedicated post. His letter touches on some of the feelings a lot of us long-time Sidekick lovers are feeling I think:

Dear T-Mobile/Danger:

My sentiments as a long-time subscriber:

T-Mobile:

Iíve had your services since your spokesperson was a parrot and your name was Omnipoint. I even sold them as an Authorized Dealer when the pager business died. It was 1998, and you only offered a handful of brick-sized phones (remember the Ericsson 388?), and your flagship handset had a 3-color screen and was made by Siemens. I remember using prepaid coupons to pay my postpaid bill – Genius! Your network was small, your plans were so-so, but digital was superior, and you were my first choice.

You became Voicestream, and had a fancy, stylized logo and Jamie-Lee Curtis was your spokesperson. She gave James Earl Jones a run for his money and you began to look like a major player. There were plenty of companies to choose from, but I stayed faithful. I used all the newest handsets and loved the ease of switching my SIM, allowing me to try all the newest phones. My Nokia 3300 fell 100 times but never failed me. I would just put the shell back together, and I had all the colors. I composed my own ringers painstakingly from the composer before it became a billion-dollar business. AT&T was still TDMA back then, and you were the only GSM player for a while (It still amazes me how you let Cingular/Big Blue leapfrog you with your own technology, but I digress).

You gobbled up smaller carriers left and right, and soon you got your new name. T-Mobile. Your coverage maps still looked like daddy-long-legs, but with each revision, the pink spiders gained weight. You were determined to provide call quality over tower quantity, knowing the latter would come soon enough. I always had enjoyable experiences as a customer and got my whole family under your wing.

Flash forward to 2002. I had a two-way pager from Skytel, and life was good. I could actually check email without a COMPUTER! My last regular handset was a Motorola V70, a slick-looking phone that rotated instead of flipping open. But I lusted for something that could do it all. I bought an unlocked Motorola Accompli 009 online to combine my 2-way pager with a phone, and also had a color screen. Mandatory headset required though, and Bluetooth didnít exist yet. That didnít last long. I looked at my sheet of upcoming phones and saw some chunky, grey, calculator-looking thing with a full keyboard. And the screen did some funky, flip move that snapped open like I always wished the V70 had done. Was this the device I had been looking for?

Danger:

Ahhh, what say I say to my dear old friend. I picked up your ugly duckling of a device and never looked back. I had never been brand-loyal with handset manufacturers, but boy, did that change. In my entire history as a wireless customer, no device has matched the ingenuity of something so useful as the Jump button. Iíve multi-tasked with ease, and frequented the hiptop.com (later, poweredbydanger.com) forums daily anticipating each OTA update. I remember when AIM smileys and copy/paste were added. I posted so often under the name JustifydHomicide that I was a ďPower UserĒ. Appletech, The Gryphon, mwsmith, JHC Ė These people were the gurus of my Sidekick experience. I got a developerís key and loved testing applications, learning the Menu+Shift shortcuts like the back of my hand.

You were always so ahead of the curve, single-handedly creating the catalog model for which Apple smugly gets credit, and for which all the other OS companies are still clamoring. I felt that I was using the latest and greatest technology, for a while that is. I anticipated each new hardware launch and recall ordering the Sidekick 2 at midnight of the launch. Iíve done the same for each new device, and even sprung for the Mr. Cartoon and LRG LEís. I remained positive after your acquisition by Microsoft, even after they unceremoniously fired half of your staff, anxiously hoping that someday Iíd see the convergence of the Sidekick with another favorite, the Zune.

When the G1 came out, I resisted temptation and waited to upgrade to the LX09 even though 3G hadnít launched in my area yet. I was grandfathered into your $20 data, and was willing to forgo the latest handset and stay loyal to you. For the first time, however, I was thoroughly unimpressed by your new outfit. Sure, your new dress was sexy and sleek, but the new integration of social networking apps lacked functionality and slowed my typically reliable OS to a crawl. I became plagued with frequent resets and freezing and now stay logged out of apps unless I need them, opting to use the browser for Twitter rather than the especially-limited catalog version. It soon became clear why this app and others were provided to the end user for free.

I began to fall out of love with you after gazing at superior products. I even flirted with a few, impressed by better features and ease of use. I developed an infatuation for Android like a middle middle-aged man staring at a young home-wrecker. The company whose ingenuity I had loved and been loyal to had changed like an estranged wife of 6 years. It felt like you lost your touch, and looking at your renders of the Project Pink phones had me drawing up my divorce papers.

Then, there was the straw that broke the camelís back,

October 2nd, 2009:

You know the particulars, so I wonít cover old news. You know what you did. You cheated on me. I had a trust in you that I was sure you wouldnít break. My secrets were safe with you throughout our relationship, and then you walked out on me in the form of a data outage. It had happened before, but never like this. I couldnít reach you for over a week, and when I heard from you, I realized that it was worse than I thought. You didnít just fail me, but you also destroyed everything we built together. Taking over 1000 contacts with you when you left was like emptying the joint account and taking the kids. You didnít even leave the pictures as a memento. How cruel could you be?

Apparently you had a change of heart, restoring some of my contacts, although you havenít yet made me whole. Iím still waiting for you to drop off the rest of my stuff – Do you think you can get the calendar, bookmarks, and photos back to me soon? Iím starting to think itíll all work out in the end; Iím getting comfortable with the idea that we wonít be together much longer. I noticed you took yourself off the market on t-mobile.com, too. Decided not to play the field?

Android looks better every day, but I like my ladies with keyboards, and G1ís getting wrinkles every day. I check in on my new love interests N900 and Bold 2 daily, and canít wait to choose my new wife. T-Mobile at least had enough Loyalty (Plan) to allow me to forgive them, but you I cannot. The credits and new handset they offered me make me feel a little better.

T-Mobile:

With your bold launch of Project Dark, this could not have come at a more inopportune time. I applaud your willingness to adopt a new model and buck the tradition that has plagued the wireless climate in the U.S. I will not be converting to one of these new plans, as my current plan suits me better. I do wonder two things about your no-contract Even More Plus plans:

Will handsets purchased at full retail come unlocked?

Will customer be allowed to provide their own unlocked handset and sign up for Even More Plus?

In closing, thank you T-Mobile for always having a ďThink Customer FirstĒ attitude, a credo of another large and successful company. Your customer service is unparalleled, and your philosophy as a company influenced me to work for your corporation during my 9-year wireless career, before moving on to a different industry. In this situation, you didnít hesitate to concede your faults for Microsoft/Dangerís shortcomings. Although you were only indirectly responsible, you realized that ultimately YOU collect my bill, and I respect that. I wonít disclose what concessions youíve offered me to retain my business, but I do beleive that I will continue to a be satisfied customer some time in November. I hope Microsoft makes you whole for your loss of revenue due to this debacle.

Cellphone Chris

More Pink/Danger Leaked Info on the State of Things

Friday, October 9th, 2009

There’s an extensive (and well written) article over on RoughlyDrafted about Microsoft, Danger, Windows Mobile, Apple, et all. If you have the time, I highly recommend you read it to get a much fuller picture on the state of things. It’s one of the most comprehensive and up to date “State of the Union” when it comes to Danger/Microsoft/Project Pink/etc. That said, I know not everyone has the time to dive into such an article, so here are some highlighted snippets from a RoughlyDrafted’s Microsoft/Danger source that I thought would be most interesting to Hiptop3.com readers:

# The source says that the details about the Project Pink phones are true and that they wouldn’t be surprised if the photos were an intentional leak, however the rumors about Microsoft working with Verizon and the unhappy employees are definitely from an unhappy (ex) employee.

# What about handset makers?

ďLetís start with the handset makers. Motorola has announced their intention to abandon WinMo for Android, and Palm has already abandoned WinMo in favor of their own WebOS. A few others, such as HTC, have been hedging their bets, announcing their support for Android, but not yet willing to publicly disown WinMo. Now the story has been leaked that Microsoft has been secretly working with Sharp on this (doomed) [Pink] project for over a year, cutting everyone else out of the picture completely.

ĒYou figured out the likely consequences of this over a month ago so I wonít belabor the point other than to say that Sharp, who has been a terrific partner to Danger throughout the Hiptop/Sidekick era, was no doubt hoping that Pink would allow them to expand their phone offerings in the Americas, a dream which has now been dashed due to typical Microsoft blundering. I doubt that either Sharp or any of the other handset OEMís will ever take Microsoft at their word again.

# Trying to build 4 versions of the Pink phones?

“the Pink planners decided to try to build both UMTS and CDMA phones in both form factors, for a grand total of four different SKUs. None of the other smartphone platform builders were foolish enough to try to build more than one phone at a time, and whoever made this decision didnít take into account the added complexity involved in coding to support two different radio modules (from two different vendors, no less!) for two completely different radio technologies, not to mention validating and testing the RF performance of four different antennas (since each form factor and radio technology requires its own antenna design). At some point the UMTS project was placed on the back burner, and for all I know it may have already been cancelled, but the damage to the project has been done.”

# Pitting Verizon against T-Mobile

ĒThe final operator who is going to be pissed is T-Mobile, who has been just as loyal of a partner to Danger as Sharp has been. I donít know exactly what Microsoft has been telling them, but they have no doubt realized that theyíve been cut out of this deal in favor of their largest competitor. Whatís worse is that apparently Microsoft has been lying to them this whole time about the amount of resources that theyíve been putting behind Sidekick development and support (in reality, it was cut down to a handful of people in Palo Alto managing some contractors in Romania, Ukraine, etc.).

ďThe reason for the deceit wasnít purely to cover up the development of Pink but also because Microsoft could get more money from T-Mobile for their support contract if T-Mobile thought that there were still hundreds of engineers working on the Sidekick platform. As we saw from their recent embarrassment with Sidekick data outages, that has clearly not been the case for some time.

# So what happens now?

“The most likely possibility is that anything worth salvaging from Pink will get folded into the larger WiMo 7 project, where it should have been located in the first place. Another possibility would be another massive layoff and shutting down the Danger offices, but with the economic crunch, I doubt that Microsoft would choose to take the hit of handing out severance packages to all the affected engineers, and breaking the lease on the buildings.”

# And finally, what all of us wish would happen, and the reasons why it probably won’t:

ĒThe smartest course of action (and therefore the one that Microsoft is least likely to take!) would be for them to recognize the value of the original Danger platform that they acquired, and to rebuild the Hiptop/Sidekick into a force to compete with Android (which is, after all, ďSidekick 2.0Ē in many respects). This wonít happen for three reasons: 1) Microsoftís irrational hatred of Java, 2) Microsoftís irrational love of Windows in all of its horrible flavors, and 3) all the Danger folks who loved the Sidekick platform have left or likely will leave soon, and Microsoft has no in-house expertise in Java or the Danger platform.

So, what does NetBSD mean for you?

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

OK, I felt the need to clear some things up regarding NetBSD being used for the m3/Sidekick Blade/Sidekick LX 2009.

What does it mean for you? Nothing. You still won’t see any Non-Catalog 3rd party applications, you won’t see a “Jailbreak”, you won’t see free rangt0n3z… none of this will happen with the Blade running NetBSD as it’s foundation. Sorry to burst any bubbles.

What you might and probably see however… is a more stable, reliable and powerful device. NetBSD/*nix is a rock solid foundation to build on top of (Bravo Danger for the choice) and I’m going to bet you as the end user will see a much more stable device that doesn’t crash and reboot nearly as much as previously (Although for us the LX was/is a very stable and reliable device).

So, let’s break this down again. No free applications or ringtones outside of the catalog on the blade.

Where’s the Hiptophunt Halloween Hunt?

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

So, I just wanted to make a post about the status of the 2008 Halloween Hunt… there is none this year. Why you may ask? A few reasons. Allow me to explain.

First off (And this is a big one), the code that powers the halloween hunt is more trouble than it’s worth. Things are so not efficient. It takes HOURS to set everything up, insert items into the list, create team emails (That task alone takes 4 hours), adjust teams, etc. It’s a hassle. Approving posts takes days, and is hard to do with multiple people. (This was tried last year and just caused more problems) The original plan was to recreate the whole site, and make everything light years better. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. (The reasons for this will follow too.)

Second off, I have no time. I’m busy working on paying projects. There’s no money in the Halloween Hunt. It’s not sponsored by anyone, no one pays me to do it. It’s all out of my pocket, which is looking pretty empty these days, as my paying projects haven’t yet paid off. I keep the site ad free to save bandwidth on the device and make it load faster and frankly, I hate ads. If I got paid hourly for the work that goes into the hunt, I’d be a very rich individual. Let’s just say when there is a hunt, the whole month of October gets devoted to it, and it’s still not enough to do everything.

Now, up until a hour or so ago I was highly considering still doing a hunt… although scaled back. (It’s tradition… it has to go on, right?) However, the actions of some individual or individuals has led me to say, “F**k it.” An individual sent me a link to an urban dictionary post containing the following;

exiva

a larger than average male (we are not sure on the fact that he is a male… will get back to you on that one). He loves Danger Inc. with his heart, and will suck their c**ks to get their attention. Unfortunately, (s)he is a failure at life and his/her apps suck c**k (not Danger c**k though)

God damnit, that dude(tte) is trying to submit his lame ass app and is being an exiva by sucking danger c**k.

Now, why would I waste my time and put off my projects and squeeze in time to do something entirely for free for someone who decides to post that? I wouldn’t. I don’t care anymore. The hunt was something I had volunteered to do… out of courtesy to the community. But if people go ahead and post this crap, why waste my time? Is it fair to kill off the hunt for the actions of one or two individuals? No. But, again, I don’t care. It’s [now] my hunt, and I’ll do whatever I so choose with it. Should MikePop or divinity choose to continue the hunt, more power to them. I will not be putting it on this year.

I had considered posting a name of the individual who I think did this, but I’ve chosen not to. It’s not worth it.

Oh, also, Volcom? I don’t care about your prizes. Seriously, they might end up in the trash tomorrow. Call Danger and whine to them about it.

So, Happy Halloween everyone and thank you Hiptop3 for the space to post this. Maybe I’ll be back next year with the hunt… Who knows.

-exiva

What does your Sidekick say about you?

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Sidekick LX Brown
Grant Duval, from The Connection (a student newspaper in Sacramento, CA), has put together an editorial titled “What does your cell phone say about you?” In it he mentions Sidekick users:

Sidekick owners have a ton of friends. Even their phone is their “Sidekick.”

People who own Sidekicks are addicted to their friends, not the ones they are with, but the ones at the receiving end of their witty texts.

Sidekick owners are young and may or may not idolize Jay-Z. They are also highly lazy. If spelling out words without using abbreviations and predictive text is too hard, what else is too hard? Getting a job? Paying taxes? I’m on to you Sidekick owners.

Personally I would have said Lil Wayne (based on the number of Lil Wayne Sidekick themes out there) and I’d disagree that we’re lazy and don’t have jobs. How else could we afford such expensive devices? What do you guys think?

So, what’s the Hiptop/Sidekick future?

Monday, February 11th, 2008

So, now that Microsoft has acquired Danger at the 3GSM Mobile World Congress 2008 in Barcelona… What does the future of the Hiptop hold?

Well, Honestly… No one knows yet. There aren’t yet enough details out from either party.

It’s too early to tell yet if our future is Microsoft killing off Danger entirely, and releasing “Windows Mobile: Hiptop Editon”.. Or if Microsoft is keeping the Danger name around as well as the HiptopOS around and just giving Danger a well needed swift kick in the ass to get the devices into the realm of current devices (WiFi, Video Playback/Record, GPS, etc.) now that Danger will have the financial resources for the Research and Development along with the Quality Assurance needed for such changes.

But, Why did Microsoft buy Danger? As we saw in the recent SEC IPO filing, Danger was losing money… lots of it. Last fiscal year (That ended September 30th) Danger had an accumulated deficit of $188.1 Million. Did Microsoft come in to be the saving grace of Danger? Or is there an alternative plan? Danger holds the patents to the Backend service, Something that could benefit Windows Mobile users greatly. Is there a chance that Microsoft bought out Danger just to get their hand on those patents? (If the assets of the company were part of the buyout agreement.)

Also, don’t forget that T-Mobile has exclusive rights. What happens to that now? If Microsoft kills off Danger and absorbs it’s assets into Microsoft, does that contract still stand or will we see “Hiptops” on other GSM and even CDMA carriers? Was Danger in a $188.1 Million dollar deficit because they signed a contract to be exclusive to T-Mobile? It’s sure not because they aren’t selling devices. Every time you see someone in the Generation X/Y age range, they usually have some form of a Hiptop/Sidekick. Was the global outreach of the Hiptop not hitting? In other countries, 3G is the standard. Is the deficit because the device isn’t selling overseas due to the lack of 3G?

In this editor’s opinion, Hopefully Microsoft keeps Danger and the HiptopOS around, but just pours it’s financial resources into it to bring us into the current generation of phones in our category and there’s no Zunephone in the works.

There are still very many empty holes, and questions left to be answered. But, this will be a very interesting year for Hiptop fans and users, as well as Danger employees.

As of right now, it’s way too early to push any panic buttons and start to freak out about this… We need to see details of the agreement and future strategies before pushing that panic button.

Edit: Spelling corrections, thanks Aaron.