Feeds

Danger Inc snags all-you-can-eat deal for Hiptop debut

A little gem

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

T-Mobile's Sidekick communicator rolls into US stores today, and Danger Inc has ensured the device will make a splash by snaring the first all-you-can-eat data deal on this side of the Atlantic.

Tariffs for the new generation of always-on, packet data digital services from cellphone companies, described as 2.5G (or if you're Sprint "3G") have carried a penalty for users. The first Megabyte of data is typically free, but additional use is charged by the byte.

The Sidekick - which is how T-Mobile will market the HipTop - will carry a $39.95 a month flat fee for data usage. This model is GPRS, but Danger has a 1x CDMA version in the pipeline - and will launch a color model into the European market in the near future.

Danger Inc. was founded by Andy Rubin, formerly of WebTV, and drew much attention when Steve Wozniak joined the board late last year. Although it's a tiny start-up in comparison to Nokia and Microsoft, it employs a galaxy of talent from across the Valley, most notably from former Be Inc. engineers. It has chosen a thin client model - your data lives in the cloud, and the applications are Java - and it resolutely targets consumers in the yoof market, rather than enterprises with its $199 Hiptop. Er, Sidekick.

And on this count, Danger has achieved a minor miracle. The Sidekick is fast, fun and ridiculously easy to use. It does exactly what it says on the tin - providing a phone, AOL Instant Messenger (but no SMS) and a surprisingly-rich email client with the usual bundle of games and PIM apps. The browser is a bonus - there's no JavaScript support, but pages render cleanly and quickly on the monochrome screen. Most of all however, it sets a standard for usability from which rivals could learn much.

We'll provide a fuller review when we've spent more time with the device. Our first impressions with Sidekick/Hiptop are that it's a joy to use, and could be the breakthrough product for creating a market that's already proven in the rest of the world, but has yet to materialize in the US (thanks to the oxen self-interest of Qualcomm and its carriers, and the regulatory agencies, in failing to ensure there are universal, interoperable standards): the teen texters.

If you're impatient, Henry Norr has an excellent and fair summary here of his HipTop experience, and Henry concludes - as you might too - that for a consumer device its sheer utility, and the quality of the execution, make it highly desirable even if you're outside the target demographic. Because there really isn't a comparable device in the price range. The only real competitor is the Handspring Treo, but it's more expensive and commensurately more flexible - it's an open platform - than the HipTop.

And open vs closed is something we'll hear more of, as the HipTop succeeds.

Writing HipTop apps shouldn't be difficult, as they're pure Java. Rubin describes his role as providing a menu to carriers who can pick and choose which apps they include in the bundle. If there's a weakness in Danger's model, this is it - and not because of anything Danger has done, or could do, but because of its customers. Danger's customers are the carriers - who are at best conservative, and at worst congenitally stupid, and have often shown the same scalping mentality and cronyism as you'd find with small town gangsters.

We're already chaffing at not having a "BOFH" option from T-Mobile, that could give us SSH and a C shell, and maybe Arkanoid too.. (Remember, it was the inclusion of Telnet in the first 1996-vintage Nokia 9000 that saved the platform, and sysadmins created a niche market for the product that was substantial enough to persuade Nokia to continue its development). Choice is good, but do the carriers know this?

For now, though, with its focus on utility and ease of use, Danger is shining a light on a miserable Stateside tech economy (that's just about to get a whole lot worse, we fear, once the shooting starts), and that's enough cause for celebration. ®

Related Stories

Steve Wozniak's smartphone adventure
Buy? Sell! - Alsop sticks it to Danger. We stick it to Alsop

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.