It’s been awhile since Microsoft did anything really game-changing in the mobile space. Windows Mobile devices, and they work fine most of the time, but they are about as exciting as dry toast (of course, if you’re British, dry toast is pretty exciting). Now, Microbeast seems to want to step up its game, with the purchase of Danger Inc., maker of the Sidekick. But will it bring any life to Microsoft’s mobile efforts?
Like my recuperating friend Om Malik at GigaOm, I’ve been following Danger from the early days, when Andy Rubin started the company and got backing from some senior VC types to shake things up in the mobile space. And the Sidekick handset did that — even the first version, which was kind of clunky, was a pleasure to use, with its flip-out swivelling screen and keypad, and the focus on instant messaging and text messaging.
The mobile industry is a pretty vicious place, though, and Danger was arguably underfunded from the beginning. It was also (as Om notes) a closed system, and so didn’t get a lot of juice from downloadable apps or plugins. And Andy Rubin has since left the company and is now running Google’s mobile Android project. I see the Microsoft acquisition going one of two ways: Danger could bring some creativity into Microsoft, or the beast from Redmond could crush all the life out of the tiny startup. I’ll leave you to guess which of the two is more likely.