Let me preface this by saying I don’t want this to be about whether or not Android is good or bad, old or new or anything in between. The question I wish to pose (among others) is whether or not Android is the right fit for the upcoming Sidekick 4G. Along with that, will customers come back to the Sidekick brand when the last thing they remember about Sidekick is an overwhelming story regarding data loss?
The “Sidekick” line is, dare I say, an iconic brand in the wireless world. It broke ground on any number of factors, most notably form factor. While the Sidekick line didn’t start the spring loaded slide up screen, it certainly did its part to popularize it. The Sidekick line was one of the only cellphone models to have personalized sponsors with the likes of Tony Hawk and Dwayne Wade. This is a name that conjures up images of Paris Hilton walking down the red carpet and athletes pounding away on the Sidekick keyboard in anything from commercials to People magazine images. There is a lot for T-Mobile to live up to with the release of the Sidekick 4G and I hope it doesn’t disappoint.
So let’s come right to the meat of this. Why would it disappoint? Well, I believe that Android, however you slice it, is a step in the opposite direction of its predecessor Sidekicks. Part of the allure was the specialized OS that was unique to the Sidekick brand and made for a unique user experience. This was part of the reason Sidekicks were so popular, because using them was a unique experience in almost every way. While I will be the first to admit I don’t know anything about the form factor or the possible variations of Android we could see running on this device, it’s still Android and Android is everywhere. There is nothing really unique about Android at this point. You can skin it, hack it and personalize it, but at the end of the day it’s still Android. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just not a unique thing. The same could be said if the Sidekick ran iOS, webOS or Windows Phone 7. It still wouldn’t be unique.
The Sidekick will likely sell because it’s a name people remember and some will purchase simply because they have fond memories of the previous models. On the flipside, the Sidekick brand took what some might have considered to be a death blow during the October 2009 data loss. This led to T-Mobile halting sales and the eventual class action lawsuit which was only recently settled. The Sidekick line took a serious hit in the public realm and even some of the most stringent Sidekick supporters moved on to other platforms.
As I look at the above image of the Sidekick 4G (which could EASILY be a placeholder and not at all what the actual device looks like) I see a typical looking slider. A gain, I wonder and I write this without all the facts given that almost no information on the phone is known. However, I wonder how T-Mobile will differentiate this device? Relying on the Sidekick name alone would have been great and almost marketed itself, but the last memory of many Sidekick users or possible future users was a data loss that made national headlines.
So while any conclusion about the possibility of Sidekick 4G sales is premature, I still have reservations and tempered hopes about how successful it will truly be. I hope, no, I wish for a revival in the Sidekick line because it was just so iconic for what it is, even if the form factor wasn’t your cup of tea. A successful launch could be a huge win for T-Mobile and the Sidekick line overall, but anything else could lead to the final resting place for the Sidekick brand. I hope I can speak for many Magenta faithful when I say we just don’t want it coming to that.