Since the Great Sidekick Disaster of 2009, there’s been a nearly endless torrent of tips on the matter barraging our inbox. Some weren’t so much “tips” as they were “mindless rants”, while others were obviously just angry customers looking to make stuff up.
Recently, however, a source which has proven itself reliable in the past has come forward with some incredible new details. It seems like Microsoft had a big, big reason to get the servers in shipshape as soon as possible – and it wasn’t because they wanted to satisfy T-Mobile customers.
According to our source, Danger, makers of the Sidekick and the keepers of the keys when it comes to the Sidekick servers, has a contract with the carriers and other service partners stipulating that the Sidekick services must maintain a 99.5% up rate. The lingering 0.5% was allotted to allow downtime during Over-the-Air updates and minor glitches. When the numbers start dipping below this point, the penalties would begin racking up. When Microsoft snatched up Danger in 2008, they also took on the contractual obligations of the company.
While our source couldn’t give specific numbers for the recent outage, they could shed a light on some relative counts: during a 2005 outage, Danger was forced to shell out around $700,000 per day when the active Sidekick userbase was around 800,000 subscribers; this number, says our source, grows in relation to the number of users inconvenienced by the outage. With the Sidekick subscription base having more than doubled since, the penalties have likely grown accordingly.
It’s important to note that, as far as I’ve been told, these fees only apply when the service is “down” – that is, mostly unreachable. Now that the service has returned sans much of the data it once held, it’s unclear what (if any) penalties are accumulating.
Our source also shared a plethora of details on the perils of the Sidekick line – from management being spooked away from making changes due to these contract stipulations to server elements that were “built on spit and glue” – but that’s another post for another day.