Hiptop handheld maker
will announce today a deal with wireless carriers T-Mobile International AG, formerly known as VoiceStream Wireless Corp., and Orange SA to deploy its technology for both voice and data on devices.
U.S.-based T-Mobile will brand the converged device the Sidekick. Hiptop is one of the few handhelds with a clamshell design that allows users to view the screen in landscape or horizontal mode, which is easier for Web browsing. Many industry analysts predict this form factor will, over time, become the standard way to use a converged PDA and cell phone handset.
But it is not the sale of hardware that Palo Alto, Calif.-based Danger is targeting, according to Andy Rubin, CEO and a co-founder.
“Danger makes no margin on the device. It’s a razor, razorblade business. We want to make money selling services which we consider the razorblades,” said Rubin.
To that end, Danger is licensing its reference designs to a number of different types of hardware manufacturers including, ODMs, OEMs and handheld manufacturers. The company will host applications at its datacenters as an ASP as well as manage the back-end infrastructure. Danger will also license the software to carriers.
Although Rubin would not give a definitive price on the T-Mobile Sidekick, he speculated that with Danger’s pricing set at cost, carriers would be able to sell such a device for less than $200.
Danger is using a server-side reference design that puts the entire platform in the network. Users will store all personal information and data, including e-mail, calendars and contacts on the network. The device does have some limited caching capability in case a user is out of a coverage area.
For end-users, losing a device will become a trivial event, said Rubin. As a thin client device, if one is lost or stolen, all a user need do is provision a new device from the network.
One industry analyst said the benefits for carriers are obvious. “Carriers like it because data is held hostage on the carriers servers,” said David Hayden, president of MobileWeek, a mobile consultancy in Palo Alto, Calif.
T-Mobile is expected to launch the Sidekick this fall. U.K.-based Orange will launch its device next year.
Danger is partnering with numerous technology companies. The device will include ActiveBuddy, an IM technology, while Beatnik will supply the polyphonic or musical ring tones technology. Meanwhile, PumaTech software will provide the wireless synchronization platform for the Sidekick supplied PIM applications, and Seven, in a future version, will be used for its redirector technology for access to Microsoft Exchange and Domino Notes servers.
Danger was founded in January 2000 by former Apple, WebTV and Philips execs, Andy Rubin, Joe Britt and Matt Hershenson. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is on the board of directors and advises the company in engineering and entrepreneurial matters.