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Microsoft's "Pink" phones in danger of collapse?

updated 10:45 am EDT, Fri October 9, 2009

MS Pink and Danger team at risk

Microsoft's Pink phone project may be on the verge of falling apart even before its first product ships, according to a controversial set of leaks supposedly confirmed today. Backing a scoop from earlier in the week, a source for AppleInsider says Microsoft has poorly managed the project and squandered the acquisition of Sidekick creator Danger from 2008. Rather than implement Danger's advice, the larger company has watched the majority of the team either fired or leave in frustration as the majority of their advice is ignored.

The anger allegedly stems from both Microsoft's insistence on keeping Pink a project separate from either the Windows Mobile or Zune teams as well as Premium Mobile Experiences head (and former MacBU leader) Roz Ho's particular policy choices. By isolating the team as a secret "skunk works" project, Microsoft prevented any design lessons learned from helping other parts of the company and oftentimes unnecessarily repeated work. Ho in particular is said to have also ignored advice from Danger staffers whose experience with the Sidekick would likely have helped the project.

Among the errors, Microsoft is said to have been too ambitious and tried to develop both CDMA/EVDO and UMTS/HSPA of the Pure and Turtle designs alike, not realizing that each needed different chipsets and antennas that would dictate fundamental changes to each; it had also tried to simply ask the key hardware partner, Sharp, to build based on the renderings rather than realistic goals, and an outside firm had been contracted to design the interface elements. The combination of these mistakes may have left the project as much as two years behind schedule and created especially severe problems for the Turtle, whose vertical QWERTY slider design would both have a too-small touchscreen that's easily covered as well as very low battery life.

The very existence of the project is also thought to have caused (or soon to be causing) problems with many partners of both Microsoft and Danger. Just by developing a self-branded phone, Microsoft is expected to mirror what occurred with the original Zune and alienate remaining Windows Mobile hardware partners, such as HTC. It may drive these supporters further towards Android, Symbian and other competing platforms, the newer source said.

Verizon is also understood to be the preferred carrier for the Pink project and would hurt Danger's hopes of a continued positive relationship with T-Mobile, the usual home of the Sidekick. Microsoft may have misled T-Mobile over the amount of continued support for the Sidekick and has purportedly killed it off with just a skeleton team to keep it alive; a recent multi-day outage of Sidekick services may have confirmed the understaffing.

Even Verizon, however, may be irritated as it feels too dependent on Windows Mobile and had been counting on Pink to improve Microsoft's reputation. A failure if true would likely push the company further towards its Android phones, BlackBerries, and even Palm's webOS. In its current situation, Verizon purportedly faces as much as a 25 percent return rate on Windows Mobile phones owed partly to distaste for the OS.

Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied any of the details, which would leave it with only its existing Windows Mobile 7 development work to rescue its smartphone platforms and with a greatly increased sense of distrust at those companies still making Windows Mobile phones. The future OS is unofficially expected sometime in the second half of 2010 and would finally add multi-touch as well as a truly finger-friendly interface to the platform. Without Pink, its only likely integration will come from the Zune interface elements the company has promised for Windows Mobile at an unspecified point in the future.

Pink is commonly accepted as a reaction to the success of the iPhone and an attempt to develop a similarly integrated hardware and software platform, not unlike the Zune's existence as an alternative to the iPod.

by MacNN Staff



  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ha. ha. ha.

    I look forward to luckyday coming around to tell us why this is excellent news for Microsoft.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a lot of people have Sidekicks

    and I've heard a lot about this from the people I know who have them:

    a recent multi-day outage of Sidekick services may have confirmed the understaffing.

    wow. There is just no end to Microsoft douchebaggery.

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stick to the plan

    Microsoft needs to stick to their typical plans. Make 5 or 6 versions/platforms for their Mobile programs. Just like Windows 7 Vista Service Pack, that has 5 to 7 versions. Soon more when they have their server software out.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You've got to be pretty incompetent to buy a company and then squander the acquisition so badly that the key people who made the company worth buying, either get fired (!!!) or leave in disgust.

    The amount that was paid for Danger was never announced so we have no idea how much Microsoft may have pissed away, but surely the damage is much more than simply having wasted that money.

  1. Monde

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS give it up...

    Yet another sphincterrific try from the the crew that brought you the zune and the OSX rip-off, but not quite as good, Windows 7.

    Apple and other competitors can only hope that Ballmer and his apparently guileless tech minions continue to botch things up over in big Redmond.

    BTW: Mossberg says W7 now makes it so that OSX isn't "much" better, yet OSX still is better. WTF?

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Roz Ho is M$ Failure Daemon

    Roz Ho is the person Microsoft put in charge of things they want to fail (at least it appears that way). Do you really think M$ wanted a successful MacBU? Interesting poll to put on Facebook: Is Roz Ho a cretin? Yes, No, Maybe or "Turn this poll off and on again"...

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Seems to me that Microsoft greed is

    trying to gobble up too much at one time. I'm sure they just want to flood the market with their handsets with the main goal of grabbing massive amounts of market share on all carriers. They're really pushing themselves, out of desperation, to catch up with the rest of the smartphone industry. Apparently the same tricks that keep Windows desktop with 90% market share doesn't work quite as well with cellphones. Microsoft didn't have to compete against multiple desktop OSes over the years like it has to with recent smartphones. OEM computer companies and corporate ITs didn't have any alternative to Windows.

    Ballmer's arrogance in saying that Microsoft's single OS for dozens of manufacturers is the best way to go for immense market share isn't going to pan out anytime soon.

    It has always been said that when you try and grab too much with your hands other stuff in your hands starts to slip away. 90% of the desktop OS market is more than enough for Microsoft to control and manage competently. It should just stay focused on that and leave gaming and smartphones for other companies.

    @Climacs Motorola did the same thing with it's acquisitions and that's why it's in the mess it is today. That and extremely corrupt management.

  1. loudpedal

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Holy s**t, when are they gonna fire Ballmer? Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the next board meeting. Then again, the Board of Directors doesn't seem to swift to allow old Uncle Fester as much time in the driver's seat as he's gotten.

  1. hexor

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fire Ballmer

    at least then they might have a chance at getting someone in there who knows what he is doing. He's only in that position because he was with Bill at the beginning, not because he knows what he is doing.

  1. eddd

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lessons unlearned

    Microsoft continues to fail because they continue to apply the same strategies that served them well in building their original empire. They don't seem to realize that their success came not through true innovation and hard work, but by being in the right place at the right time. Their practices worked then, but won't work now - that window in time has closed. So they find themselves trying to re-create those dynamics in a time when innovation and careful thought are the things that matter. As long as they're preoccupied with the old methods of leveraging and FUD, and their focus is fixed on marketshare and not the customer, they won't have the mindset to succeed.

    Ballmer is from the past, and is holding them back. They desperately need someone else at the helm.

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