Doublespeak On The Openness Of The Sidekick II

Engadget is running a JD Lasica interview with Hank Nothhaft, the CEO of Danger, about the new Sidekick II. Like Lasica’s first interview, I’m a bit disappointed that he doesn’t dig a little deeper. The biggest complaint about the Sidekick (and the main reason I have little interest in upgrading my original Sidekick to the new one, rather than a different option) is just how closed the Sidekick platform is. While Nothhaft says anyone can develop for the Sidekick, that’s only true in the sense that anyone can develop for the Sidekick if they don’t mind that almost all of that development effort will be completely wasted, unless you beg and plead and convince T-Mobile and/or Danger to include your application. You can’t even upload your own apps to test them, but can only run them on an emulator. In other words: no developer community. The reason I still use a PalmOS device is because it has apps I want. I have no such loyalty to the Sidekick, which is a neat little device, but woefully lacking in applications that would make it really useful. Nothhaft admits that they’re the “gatekeeper,” which shows just how little they understand about this market. They’ve shot themselves in the foot, and no matter how many B-list stars they get to flash Sidekicks around, it doesn’t expand the developer community if they can’t actually offer apps. Nothhaft also shoots down the idea of user-uploadable ringtones, saying T-Mobile wants to charge. Again, they’re making decisions so the carriers can charge, not so their users can get the best experience. Unfortunately for Danger, others in this industry are going to listen to customers, and that’s going to put Danger in a tough spot. Also, amusing in the interview is how Nothhaft, very politician like, completely sidesteps the question of why T-Mobile is the only major US carrier offering the Sidekick by pointing out that T-Mobile is using Cingular’s network. First, that’s true only in some places, and second (and much more importantly) has absolutely nothing to do with the question.

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