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updated 10/13/2009 6:42:42 PM ET 2009-10-13T22:42:42
OPINION

How much is your time worth? If you are a Sidekick user, T-Mobile apparently thinks "not very much." How else to explain a $100 gift card and a months' free data service as compensation for losing all of someone's smartphone data?

Already angered by the loss of their information and T-Mobile's slow response to the problem, I am hearing from users who say the "token" $100 just adds insult to injury.

Consider how long it will take some users to recreate their huge address books, busy calendars, and dozens or hundreds of notes. What about photos that can never be replaced?

A hundred bucks, in that case, might translate to $1-an-hour, or less. While not a Sidekick owner (thankfully), I am all for those who'd like to see T-Mobile pay much larger sums to its users.

And a gift card? How cheesy is that. Why not give people something that don't have to spend with T-Mobile?

The company should also be giving away replacement phones — with no requirement for a new two-year contact — that some customers say they have been offered. That's extra-cheesy!

The real moral of this story, long after T-Mobile is whipped into its senses, is that designing systems that don't encourage regular (and multiple) backups is pretty stupid.

Love or hate the iPhone, it can do an excellent job of keeping data safe. I have almost daily backups of the phone made by iTunes. Copies of my personal address book, calendar, etc., also live on all my Macs as well as in the cloud, thanks to MobileMe. Time Machine software automatically backs up all my Macs to the Time Capsule 2TB wireless access point.

That the Sidekick was so reliant on data stored seemingly in only one place is bad design, to put it mildly.

I explained how to complain to government about the T-Mobile mess in a story posted yesterday. It also described how an angry customer was banned — at least twice — from T-Mobile's online forums. That's certainly a way to quell a customer rebellion. Sure, it is.

There are some who say that "cloud computing" shouldn't be blamed for T-Mobile's accidental WMD incident. My colleague, Tony Bradley, seems to define cloud computing as "reliable" cloud computing — as in "cloud computing is only what's working right now."

I take a different view: Cloud computing is what customers and users think it is. And, today, that means information stored on the Internet someplace is part of cloud computing.

When T-Mobile's Sidekicks lost their collective memory, it damaged the whole concept of cloud computing. That will take time to repair.

And, what do you think the chances are that Microsoft will kill the "Danger" brand? Sidekick users now know the real downside of living dangerously.

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