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Danger outage turns Sidekicks into just phones

Hip handsets' disconnection from e-mail, IM and other data services angers customers, who get only limited information from Danger.

Sidekick users raged against their machines on Monday, as service provider Danger fought to isolate issues that disconnected the hip phones from e-mail, instant messaging and other data services.

The severity of the issues varied widely among users, with some consumers reporting that they had been without service for more than 24 hours, while others reported no issues, according to a review of more than 150 posts to a Sidekick and Sidekick 2 forum. Danger, the creator of the Sidekick devices and the company that maintains the service for carrier T-Mobile USA, gave few details of the problem.

"This morning, some users may experience degradation in service (e.g., connection and email delay) which is currently being resolved by Danger engineers," a Danger representative wrote in a a posting to Hiptop.com, a company-owned forum for Sidekick customers.

Neither Danger nor T-Mobile responded to requests for comment.

The outages are the latest issues plaguing the mobile phone and Internet services provided by Danger and T-Mobile. Both companies have come under scrutiny as the means by which online thieves managed to steal the addresses, e-mail messages and images from the Sidekick of celebrity heiress Paris Hilton last year, an incident that came to light last month. The recent appearance on the Internet of a private sex video of Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and an ex-girlfriend--allegedly stolen from Durst's PC--has also been linked to the same group.

Whether the outage is part of an attack or the result of technical glitches is unknown.

Most customers did not seem to care about the distinction. In a flurry of posts, angered users took issue with Danger's characterization of the outage as a "degradation in service" and accused the company of downplaying the seriousness of the problems.

"I'm going on 48 hours down-time," wrote one customer in a post to the forum. "I use this device as a primary mail client. Not having it is killing me. I pay for QoS (quality of service), and expect it."

In addition, some customers complained that they could not connect to Danger's server, which provides customers with Web access to their Sidekick data. CNET News.com confirmed that the company's Desktop Interface was down much of Monday.

Danger updated users in the past month with patches for the device's operating system and its wireless networking capability. Some customers theorized that the two software updates, which several posters had just received over the network last weekend, were the cause of the outage.

Whatever the reason, the outage had customers frustrated with the Sidekick devices and the service.

"As for Danger...they seriously need to get their act together," stated another customer on the Hiptop forum. "I understand an outage lasting a couple hours, but an outage lasting longer than 24 hours is completely unacceptable."