T-Mobile offers $100 blood money to Sidekick customers

T-Mobile, hoping to place the blame squarely where it belongs (Microsoft), and give hope to those users still without data, issued the statement this evening to its Sidekick customers.

It boils down to this: They are still working to solidify the infrastructure and are still restoring data (which is a whole lot better than the "your data is probably gone" from this weekend). If you are one of the many who lost data that can't be recovered, you get $100 worth of credit on T-Mobile. The check should go out within 14 days.

It will be interesting to see how many of T-Mobile's customers use that $100 to buy themselves out of their plan.

While still not great news for Sidekick users, there is now hope to some that there is still a chance to rescue data. I'm not sure what changed from the previous press release. Perhaps they called in the"fixer" team.

Again, this is a sad ending to the Sidekick device which, from 2003-2006, was as state of the art as a smartphone could be.

It also throws some doubt at the prospect of letting Microsoft, or any other provider, store your data in their Cloud. Perhaps the good of this incident will be more transparency will be injected into what is happening behind the scenes at Cloud vendors.

Is there an offsite backup of the database? Has it been checked by a third party? I'd really like to know. Even the big boys like Google and Apple should now open up their data centers.

It also should remind users to backup data whenever possible. I make copies of my Gmail (through IMAP) all of the time and back it up separately. If I lost my Gmail, I'd be in the same situation as a lot of these Sidekick users. My contacts and calendar sync through iCal and Address Book and are then backed up. My Google Docs are only in the Cloud (yikes!)

For my phone, I use an iPhone which is backed up to my computer when I sync it. It then gets put on a Time Machine disk and sent to an online backup company. Apple has done us iPhone users a favor and made it much easier to backup than a Sidekick.

As for the poor Sidekick, the prospects don't look good. T-Mobile has still not begun sales of the device again. I'm not sure if/when they'll start back up again but I'm pretty sure it is over for this "storied" brand. (though some think it might be reincarnated as a Google Android device -- which isn't that far fetched considering Danger and Android share founders' DNA)

Microsoft may or may not release the Pink brand of Windows Mobile phones to replace the Sidekick. Whatever the case, Microsoft will want to try to distance itself as far away as possible from this incident if it wants to get any sales.

Update October 10th: Today, Roz Ho, Corporate Vice President Premium Mobile Experiences of Microsoft issued a statement (their first on the matter), dispelling many conspiracy theories out there.  According to Roz, 

We have determined that the outage was caused by a system failure that created data loss in the core database and the back-up. We rebuilt the system component by component, recovering data along the way. This careful process has taken a significant amount of time, but was necessary to preserve the integrity of the data. 

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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