JD Lasica talks to Hank Nothhaft, CEO of Danger, Inc., about the Sidekick II in today’s Engadget interview. Now the Sidekick is a great little piece of hardware, but I doubt I’ll be buying the next version. It seems every time Danger has a choice to make between end users and intermediaries, the intermediaries win out. See their stance on ringtones, for example:
JD: Can customers upload their own ringtones?
Nothhaft: No. Theres an effort by the industry to make people pay for the content on these devices.
JD: Too bad…
Danger says it’s trying to reach out to independent developers, but only if they’re willing to go through Danger as “gatekeeper” — Nothhaft’s word, not mine.
Nothhaft: Were just getting started but trying to reach out to the independent developer community. A lot of the new games and applications being launched by us now are certainly all coming from third parties.
JD: What about allowing developers to create user-installable applications for the Sidekick?
Nothhaft: Not user-installable. Were a gatekeeper in that sense. they use our developer kit, they reach an agreement with us, and then through us they can have access to our user base.
Someone forgot to tell borged-by-TMobile Danger that lots of independent software developers start out as hobbyists. They develop software to scratch an itch of their own, share it with friends, and then, perhaps, look for ways to commercialize it. Danger is also forgetting that content and network partners aren’t always device manufacturers’ friends. Devices are sold not just for their cool hardware (swivel screens notwithstanding), but also for the compelling applications available for them. Dry up the well of app development, and you’ll find no one is crazy about a brick, even one that swivels.
Even though I like the Sidekick form factor, for my next device, I’d lean toward paying more for an open application platform, like that of the Palm-based Treo. Then I’ll hope that enough others express these market preferences to help Danger see the light for version III.