Microsoft Buys Sidekick Maker, Danger

sidekickblue.jpgUpdate: That Yahoo thing is going to take some time, but acquisition-hungry Microsoft isn’t sitting idle. They have snapped up Palo Alto, Calif.-based Danger Inc. for an undisclosed amount of money. While they are not giving reasons as to why they are buying Danger, I am guessing that the user experience on Danger is a key factor. Danger, as you might recall, is the company behind T-Mobile’s Sidekick device, and was started by Andy Rubin, now leading the Android charge over at Google. The company raised over $134 million in venture funding from the likes of Mobius and Redpoint Ventures. It had planned for an initial public offering, but the recent downturn in financial markets might have prompted a decision to sell out to Microsoft.

I have followed Danger from its early beginnings, back in the day when I was a reporter at Red Herring. Despite having a great solution, the company never became a big player, highlighting the challenges facing a mobile startup, especially one with consumer ambitions. Of course there was the problem of being a closed environment and not fostering an application ecosystem.

The company still gets about 92 percent of its revenues from T-Mobile USA, and has been losing money. For its financial year ending Sept. 30, 2007, Danger had sales of $56 million and losses of around $28 million.

“The addition of Danger serves as a perfect complement to our existing software and services, and also strengthens our dedication to improving mobile experiences centered around individuals and what they like,” said Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division at Microsoft, in a statement. Microsoft didn’t outline its plans or the price it paid for Danger when I contacted them.

Update: I just got off the phone with Scott Rockfeld, Group Product Manager at Microsoft’s Mobile Communication Business. I tried to pin him down on why they were buying Danger and what kind of synergies were they expecting. All he would say was “In the short term we will continue the current product lines and we will work on trying to integrate the two platforms.” The motivation, as suspected was Danger’s consumer focus and consumer expertise. Clearly, Microsoft needs help and Windows Mobile has been relegated to the Business segment

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