Danger Dooming Itself

I was excited to hear that Danger would soon open a developer site. The license agreement seemed OK except for the following:

8. Product WARRANTY Invalid. Developer Acknowledges and agrees that the download of any software (including licensed technology) onto or tampering with any t-mobile sidekick or other danger hiptop device shall invalidate the limited product warranty applicable to any such device.

Basically, what they are saying here is “Hey, you use a Danger device for development, then kiss your warranty goodbye, even if its because of our own code”. This is very sad and one would expect more support from a company trying to foster a developer community. This portion seems short-sighted at best.

The next thing is the concept of Developer dollars. Basically, you’re given some scrips. Ask a question and spend them, answer a question and get new ones. So if you’re just interested in developing apps and, when you run into a problem, ask questions in the forum, you will have to pay for it. A significant quote from their site again:

If you ever run out, you’ll always be able to purchase more Developer Dollars with cold hard cash.

Now that’s not very reassuring. How about just letting people be. The basic concept is to incentivize people but sometimes, questions are more important than answers. If I ask a question about the product that provokes other developers into a debate over an implementation issue, isn’t that of some value?

But it doesn’t stop there. There’s more! Danger breaks down its development community into three groups: Interested, Trusted, and Serious. The interested parties have access to docs only and are not allowed to post in forums. The trusted developers have either a valid address (ie. they own a danger device) or work for a company that does wireless development. This last group is the first group to have access to a simulator SDK What does that mean? Well, basically, if you are a hobbyist, and do not own a danger device, forget developing for it. You don’t get an SDK, you don’t get to discuss with other interested developers. It seems to me that this create a closed community. As a result, Danger is essentially giving up on the possibility of having thousands of developers create new applications for their device.

This is the kind of mistake that others (Palm, Microsoft) have not made and, considering that the Danger OS is a proprietary one, leaves little change for the device to succeed in the long run. Ultimately, new hardware succeeds only if it is open enough to let people develop new software for it.

With their restrictive approach, Danger may be killing its own potential in the marketplace. A real shame considering how many hobbyists like myself were hoping to be able to offer new stuff on it.

Last but not least, my interest in the Danger was from the web end. If I had access to a Danger emulator with the Danger browser, I could make sure that pages on this site would be optimized for it. Danger decided that it didn’t care about such thing. Too bad for them, and too bad for Danger users.

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