Microsoft Courts Danger

Even as Yahoo! rebuffed Microsoft’s proposal this morning, Microsoft announced this morning that it would acquire mobile software and services provider Danger Inc. (and in the process nix Danger’s plans to go public).
In the press release, Microsoft said the “acquisition will align Danger’s nearly 10 years of expertise in the mobile consumer space with Microsoft’s vision to provide innovative andcompelling mobile experiences to a growing base of customers.”
We first met Danger in early 2000 when my colleague Jim Forbes and I were putting together the DEMOmobile events. Danger introduced the Sidekick at DEMOmobile 2001. Meeting the company in their scrappy offices on University Ave., in Palo Alto, it was clear

Danger logo

to us that the future value of Danger wasn’t the Sidekick device or even the operating environment; it’s the applications and services that the device connects to that matter most. Microsoft seems to get that, too.

So concerns voiced in a c|net post about how Microsoft will reconcile the incompatible operating systems seem moot to us. Microsoft Windows Mobile has focused on the device, to the neglect of the services the device connects with. Danger provides an end-to-end infrastructure to deliver data and Internet services to consumers. Whether Microsoft adopts Danger’s OS or kills it is of little consequence. It’s the service infrastructure that matters and in acquiring Danger, Microsoft is acquiring the architecture, IP, and experienced engineers to extend Windows Mobile – or for that matter the Xbox and other device-centric operating platforms — from the device to the service layer.
We hope Microsoft also recognizes the value of Danger’s consumer-smart marketing organization. Danger has been successful in creating a hip brand that appeals to the iPod generation, a substantial market segment that Microsoft can’t seem to crack.

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