Skype drops execs just after Microsoft deal
Skype in the immediate aftermath of FTC approval of its deal with Microsoft has fired several executives. Don Albert, Doug Bewsher, Chris Dean, Anne Gillespie, David Gurlé, and Russ Shaw have all either left or had clear intentions to leave. Much of the focus has been on marketing and human resources executives like Albert, Bewsher, and Gillespie, but Shaw was the general manager of Skype's carrier deals and considered instrumental to getting Skype as a mainstay on smartphones.
FTC approves Microsoft's Skype takeover
The FTC on Friday said it had given approval to Microsoft's buyout of Skype. The clearance determined that the deal wouldn't create any significant anti-competitive issues. The filing didn't say whether other agencies had to close the deal, which Microsoft had only said would be approved by the end of 2011.
Google makes Android Hardware team
Google in a low-key move has set up a hardware group dedicated solely to building hardware devices and using some of VP Andy Rubin's former Danger teammates. An Android@Home and Android Open Accessory.
T-Mobile dates G2X and Sidekick 4G for April 20
T-Mobile on Thursday set out ship dates and pricing for two of its halo phones for the spring. The G2X flagship is now known to cost $200 after a contract and a $50 rebate and will ship to stores on April 20, with online orders heading out on April 15. The Sidekick 4G was already priced at $100 on a contract but should head out at the same April 20 date as its fellow Android counterpart.
Microsoft mobile failure pinned on Windows pride
An investigation into Microsoft's high-profile mobile failures has blamed much of the company's poor market share on an endemic culture that resists anything not part of Windows. CEO Steve Ballmer is said to be over-proud and overprotective of the Windows legacy he inherited from Bill Gates. The company's Windows and Office teams often get first say over anything, Forbes was told, and were likened earlier by James Whittaker to a Mafia that killed Courier, Kin, or any project that would threaten Windows' internal hegemony.
We test the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G at CTIA
When T-Mobile unveiled the Sidekick 4G, fears immediately surfaced that the switch to Android killed what the now defunct Danger had done to make the Sidekick special, such as jump keys. Those concerns are certainly valid, but the carrier is counting on a custom interface and surprisingly high-end specs to make up the difference. Read on for an early take on whether they've reached that goal.
Samsung Sidekick 4G likely replacement
T-Mobile has issued a statement that has sounded the death knell for Danger Sidekick users. Danger was purchased by Microsoft, which ultimately resulted in the failed Microsoft Kin devices. Following the shuttering of Kin’s cloud-based services, T-Mobile has announced that Sidekick users will see their cloud-based services discontinued after May 31.
Kin One and Two reappear on Verizon roadmap
Microsoft's ill-fated Kin One and Kin Two are returning to Verizon, a leaked fall roadmap revealed tonight. Despite having sold just 8,810 phones, the phone designer is bringing the two devices back as the OneM and TwoM. PPCGeeks' copy of the roadmap would have both sold as basic feature phones and consequently dodging the $30 smartphone plan requirement widely credited for killing the popularity of the devices in their brief six-week initial run.
T-Mo promises Sidekick series reboot in months
T-Mobile today said it would drop all existing Sidekick devices tomorrow, July 2. It still plans to support the Sidekick LX 2009 and 2008 but won't sell either of the devices anymore. In a statement, however, it insisted the messaging phone line wasn't going away and promised a "new and fresh experience" sometime in the "months ahead."
HP buyout of Palm costs it webOS UI designer
Palm may have been dealt a significant wound this morning as its key user interface designer Matias Duarte said this morning that he was leaving the company. The Senior Director of Human Interface and User Experience didn't say where he would go next, but sources for AllThingsD said he was leaving to join Google and develop the Android interface. Google hasn't confirmed the new hire.
Zune 4.2 points to Microsoft-made phones
A low-key version 4.2 update for the Zune software (currently only available through the software itself) may have confirmed Microsoft's plans for phones with Zune features. The INF file that identifies hardware drivers includes three references to "Phone.DeviceDesc" alongside more conventional Zune listings; the description in turn points to just "phone" as the description. As they have to refer to actual devices and can't be falsely associated with someone else, the mentions hint at three Microsoft-branded phones that would need the support in the near future.
myTouch Slide, Pink to spell demise of Sidekicks?
An unnamed source has indicated that T-Mobile is planning on phasing out its Sidekick handsets in favor of the upcoming myTouch Slide from HTC. The unconfirmed report says the Sidekick devices will be slowly phased out, but whether the line disappears altogether is unknown. Another possibility is that Sidekick will be replaced by a new range of phones developed by the same Danger team, now owned by Microsoft. Currently rumored to be under development, the handsets are collectively known as Project Pink.
From Danger Twitter signs hint at Pink phones
A recent series of tweets signed "from Danger" and with the "#tmdp" hashtag indicate Microsoft's Pink phones are not dead in the water, as previously believed. Danger is the company behind Sidekick handsets, which was purchased by Microsoft in 2008, and Tweeting from those handsets returns a "from Danger" in the signature. The Danger tags also link to Microsoft's home page instead of Sidekick's, adding to the mystery. There is no indication of what the "#tmdp" tag means or refers to, however.
MS chief talks Win Mo 7, Sidekick, Courier
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer today provided a handful of minor revelations for his company's strategy in an interview today. In his discussion with Engadget, the executive has now all but confirmed that Windows Mobile 7 will "come hard" with elements of the Zune interface; previously, the company had only made indirect allusions to the software appearing in a future update. Most anticipate the release moving the phone OS towards a more touch-friendly platform as well as to give it stronger media playback.
MS may pay multi-million fine over Sidekick
Microsoft may owe T-Mobile millions of dollars for its just-concluding Sidekick outage, an inside tip may have revealed today. Like most carriers, T-Mobile is believed to have a service level agreement (SLA) with Microsoft and Danger to guarantee uptime but may have a particularly costly deal with Microsoft. The MobileCrunch source claims that Microsoft will likely pay a rate roughly equal to $700,000 per day for the period it couldn't guarantee 99.5 percent availability of Sidekick services.
Microsoft mistake may have cost Sidekick service
A major, avoidable error by Microsoft caused the permanent Sidekick data loss from over a week ago, sources said this weekend. Multiple tips to Hiptop3 claim that Microsoft had no backup of the Storage Area Network (SAN) used to hold Sidekick information and lost the data when Hitachi encountered a failure during an upgrade. The company may now have little choice but to start fresh and have users re-sync data from their Sidekicks once a fresh SAN is ready.
T-Mobile warns Sidekick loss permanent
T-Mobile this Saturday has issued a warning to all Sidekick owners that their online data may have been permanently lost by Danger and its parent company Microsoft. In a note to customers, the carrier says the likelihood of recovering contacts, calendars and other information taken offline by a more than week-long outage is "extremely low" due to an assessment of the server failure. Customers may lose all their information if they have to reset their sidekicks or deprive them of power, according to the note.
MS Pink and Danger team at risk
Microsoft's Pink phone project may be on the verge of falling apart even before its first product ships, according to a controversial set of leaks supposedly confirmed today. Backing a scoop from earlier in the week, a source for AppleInsider says Microsoft has poorly managed the project and squandered the acquisition of Sidekick creator Danger from 2008. Rather than implement Danger's advice, the larger company has watched the majority of the team either fired or leave in frustration as the majority of their advice is ignored.
Microsoft Pure and Turtle images
A handful of images have leaked of what are widely believed to be the first Microsoft-branded phones. The renderings slipped out by Gizmodo appear to confirm the Turtle, a vertical QWERTY slider that also appears to have a touchscreen, as well as the Pure, a more conventional touchscreen with a side-sliding keyboard. Both have a very rounded design influenced by Sidekick creator Danger, which Microsoft bought out last year, and an interface mockup that borrows heavily from the visual style of the Zune HD.
T-Mo adds Sidekick Sync
T-Mobile on Tuesday announced it has made a new Sidekick Sync application for its Sidekick LX handset, which would now support real time push e-mail, let users view attachments in said e-mails. Now available via the Download Catalog, the application will also synchronize its phonebook with a corporate directory, as well as full sync support via an Exchange calendar and its meeting and event reminders.
MS Picks Ad Firm for Pink
Microsoft has picked the ad firm that will represent its "Pink" smartphone interface, sources said Wednesday. AdWeek hears that a contract bid has been won by McCann Erickson's TAG group, trumping others. The leak doesn't include any details of what "Pink" involves but adds that McCann already handles advertising for Windows Mobile, supporting the phone connection.
AdMob Mar 2009 Phone Share
The use of the iPhone online has accelerated to where it's now outranking Symbian in terms of sheer traffic, AdMob's March 2009 metrics report shows. Tracking access worldwide based on ad requests, the firm says OS X iPhone grew to represent 38 percent of smartphone traffic and just slightly edged out all Symbian phones, which have fallen to 37 percent. Both are sharp changes from February, when Symbian held a comfortable lead at 43 percent while the iPhone had just crossed the 33 percent mark.
T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009
T-Mobile this morning finally confirmed the existence of its 2009 update to the Sidekick LX. The new model is the first ever to support 3G and draws on HSPA to allow both faster web browsing as well as to enable video streaming directly through the browser as well as Internet radio and video uploading. GPS is also new and exploits Danger's connection to Microsoft to let users search for nearby locations (including fuel and movies) using Live Search.
Sidekick 2009 First Hand
T-Mobile's next-gen Sidekick is now being claimed as real and has received additional details. Now referred to as just the Sidekick 2009, the messaging phone is described by an anonymous source for Hiptop3 as having a "more grown up," upscale feel and should have a new version 5.0 of Danger's Sidekick operating system. A set of lights along the top edge of the display contribute to the phone's effect, while the keys are closer to being flush and are flat rather than curved.
Sidekick LX 2009 Leak
Danger and its hardware partners may be preparing a major update to the Sidekick LX that turns it into an advanced media and social networking device, a survey given to a Hiptop3 reader suggests. When asked about smartphones, the reader says she was reportedly presented with an image that shows an Sidekick LX 2009 that centers on an unusually sharp, 854x480 3.2-inch display. It would also have other hardware firsts for Sidekicks, including 3G data, GPS with turn-by-turn navigation and a 3.2-megapixel camera with both flash and video capture.
Zune Codename Pink Rumor
Microsoft is planning a major update to the Zune that may presage the rumored Microsoft-built phone, according to an alleged tip given to CNBC's Jim Goldman. A claimed "good" source tells the reporter that a new Zune device, codenamed "Pink," is due to surface as early as the CES show in January and would represent a cross between existing Zune design and elements picked up from Microsoft's acquisition of Danger, which is believed to have been absorbed into the Entertainment division at the company that handles both the Xbox and Zune lines.
MS Tegra Phone Rumor
Microsoft is in the later stages of developing a phone of its own that will rely on performance to drive sales, a rumor floated by the Inquirer today claims. The Windows Mobile developer is allegedly developing a phone that would use one of NVIDIA's Tegra processors as its heart. The feature would likely involve the APX 2500 chip and theoretically give the Microsoft device 720p video playback and advanced 3D visuals that are absent on other phones.
MS Porting Zune to Win Mob
Microsoft is still committed to including aspects of the Zune interface to Windows Mobile devices, company chief Steve Ballmer said in an interview with CIO published late Thursday. The company co-founder supports the public company position and makes no mention of a rumored, internally developed Zune phone but instead says some form of the Zune shell will eventually be ported to Windows Mobile to give the device a better media experience than today's smartphones.
T-Mo Sidekick 2008 Unboxed
T-Mobile's Sidekick 2008 has already been unpacked just a day before its official release and had its pricing revealed through a leak at the TmoNews forums. The images confirm all the details slipped out previously, including the 2-megapixel camera, extra-wide LCD, and replaceable backplates that involve both art patterns as well as sports logos. Video recording is also known to be built-in.
MS Zune Phone Begins
Microsoft has held its first concrete meetings to design a Zune-branded cellphone, according to an unconfirmed but allegedly credible leak from jkOnTheRun. The device is well away from completion but is intended to use multi-touch input and would use a variant of Windows Mobile 7, Microsoft's first major overhaul to its smartphone platform since 2005. Windows Live services will be a major focus along with the Zune's emphasis on media playback.
Sidekick 2008 due July 30
T-Mobile's Sidekick 2008 now has a solid release date, says a new document leak through BGR. The rebranding of the Gekko has now been confirmed and should be introduced through T-Mobile on July 30th, likely replacing the normal Sidekick LX outside of the Tony Hawk Edition.
Sidekick Gekko 2008 Leak
Further leaks of T-Mobile's Sidekick Gekko suggest the phone may be given a new name as well as much more varied customization than originally thought, Hiptop3 says. Reports passed along to the site suggest the device may be renamed the Sidekick 2008 when it launches soon, although the backs of the new devices simply read "Sidekick" and don't provide immediate clues as to any specific name. The messaging slider phone has also been codenamed the Aspen in earlier leaks.
Duarte Reworking Palm UI
One of the most prominent phone interface designers is now working for Palm for its next operating system, Engadget confirms in a hunt for new information. Matias Duarte, who designed much of the interface behind the Danger Sidekick and later moved on to Helio's custom interface, is now known through checks with sources and Palm itself to be a Senior Director in Palm's Human Interface and User Experience design group. The new executive quietly left his former post at Helio for the new position nearly two years ago in September 2007.
Red Rover Games has announced the release of Safari Sketch a new match-three puzzler that uses exotic locales to view endangered species from around the world. Red Rover Games also announced a donation of US$2 for each sold copy of Safari Sketch to the nonprofit Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In Safari Sketch, adventurers can gather hand-rendered likenesses of more than 50 exotic and endangered species of plants, animals and insects, including the Giant Panda, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, and the world's rarest insect, the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. Players enter jungles, reefs, snowy mountains, archipelagoes, and other locales as they are challenged to find matches and clear the puzzle board before the "daylight" fades. The game keeps a journal of the illustrations the player has collected along with an entry containing interesting facts about each creature presented in Safari Sketch.
Sidekick Gekko Manual Leak
A handful of leaked manual pages today has all but confirmed the existence of the Sidekick Gekko for T-Mobile. The discovery validates reports of basic details about the device, which includes an extra-wide LCD like that of the Sidekick LX, removable faceplates like the Sidekick iD, and a camera; the new details point to a two-megapixel camera instead of the 1.3-megapixel unit from some past versions of the messaging phone.
Sidekick Slide Scarlet
T-Mobile today opted for a weekend launch of the Sidekick Slide Scarlet, its first special variant of the Motorola-created messaging phone. The new model conspicuously changes the phone's trim from its original purple to a deeper red while keeping all of the features of the original: the Slide is still one of T-Mobile's smallest Sidekicks but offers the full feature set, including its 1.3-megapixel camera, EDGE Internet access, microSD storage up to 4GB, and dedicated AAC and MP3 playback.
Sidekick Gekko Spotted
T-Mobile's rumored Sidekick Gekko has already been spotted and had some of its details revealed courtesy of a leak from Hiptop3. Confirmed as a replacement for the Sidekick iD, the Gekko will have colored and likely replaceable faceplates but should represent a significant technical upgrade. It should include the same 400x240 wide display as the Sidekick LX and may match a number of the other features of the higher-end model, which include a 1.3-megapixel camera.
T-Mo 3G May Come This Week
T-Mobile's long-delayed 3G cellular Internet access will first be available as early as this week, says new information from BGR. The company's proprietary 1,700MHz service will reportedly become active on Thursday and should be available for subscribers in at least New York City; separate rumors also have the faster service available in Los Angeles and Miami in the near future. Other regional launches aren't yet known but should take place over coming months.
New T-Mo Sidekicks Soon
T-Mobile will carry two new Sidekick messaging phones this summer, according to an apparent leak from TmoNews. Danger and at least one of its partners will release a mystery device nicknamed the "Gekko" on July 27th; a second known as the "Aspen" will follow shortly afterwards on the 30th. Details of the devices are unknown, though the possibility exists that the phones will either be special editions of existing models with new artwork in addition to possible replacement models.
MS Finishes Danger Buyout
Microsoft today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Danger, bringing the Sidekick maker entirely into the larger company. Danger will now become a core component of the new Premium Mobile Experiences group at Microsoft and will be part of the Mobile Communications group inside of the Entertainment and Devices division. The freshly acquired company's founders now report directly to Roz Ho, corporate VP for the Premium Mobile Experiences group and former head of the Macintosh Business Unit.
Habits of iPhone owners
A new survey by Rubicon Consulting purports to have revealed some of the demographics of iPhone owners. Pollsters contacted 460 American iPhone customers, and questioned them on factors such as income, data use, and other devices they own. Results indicate that approximately half of iPhone owners are under the age of 30, although only 15 percent are students. Notably, 75 percent of these already owned some form of Apple product, whether an iPod or a Mac. The company may thus have problems trying to push the iPhone onto a mainstream population.
MS Danger Deal Worth 500M
Microsoft's acquisition of Danger is worth approximately a half billion dollars, according to a source speaking with Om Malik about the deal. While Microsoft has remained secretive about the financial terms of the buyout, the company is now believed to have spent as much as $500 million to purchase the designer behind the Sidekick and its software. The tipster does not explain why Microsoft had been willing to make the high offer, which is unusual for acquiring a firm that does not manufacture its own hardware.
Microsoft Buys Danger
Microsoft today revealed that it was acquiring Danger Inc., triggering a shift in the mobile phone business. The deal's terms have not been disclosed but will see the smaller firm, best known for the software powering Sidekick messaging phones, folded into the Entertainment and Services Division at Microsoft. The buyout will help Microsoft enter the "consumer space" for phones and will simultaneously let Danger expand its partnerships to other companies. Neither firm has said when they expect the deal to be approved by US officials.