Believe it or not, smartphone app development existed before the iPhone App Store.

In fact, there was a very active smartphone development community in the early and mid 2000's. In particular, there was a tight community that developed apps for the Danger Hiptop, also known as the T-Mobile Sidekick.

I was reminded of this the other day when I stumbled upon some old photos and screenshots of apps that I developed for the Sidekick.

Tiny Charms on the T-Mobile Sidekick
I published a Bejeweled clone for the T-Mobile Sidekick, also known as the Danger Hiptop.

In 2005, I developed 3 games for the Sidekick: Tiny Charms, a clone of the popular game "Bejeweled", Tiny Video Poker, and Tiny Pai-Gow Poker.

Only my Tiny Charms app was approved and sold in the Sidekick App Store.

Tiny Charms was a Bejeweled clone
Tiny Charms was a "Match 3" game, similar to Bejeweled.

Unfortunately, the Sidekick "app store" had a very strict gatekeeping process with extremely unfair restrictions. It wasn't enough to have a good game or app. They curated their apps mostly based on need, not quality.

There was already a really SHITTY Video Poker app in their store, so they denied my submissions for both the Video Poker app AND the Pai-Gow Poker app.

JackAce credit screen
I was still using the JackAce moniker back in 2005.

Which was a shame, because apps that got approved really did well. Despite NOT being able to set your app price, despite only getting 50% of the revenue (compared to 75% in the iOS App Store), I was raking in several thousand dollars per month with my one approved game, Tiny Charms.

Poorly Photoshopped Photo of Paris Hilton playing Tiny Charms
Paris Hilton was a Tiny Charms fan.

It really was a blast being able to work on an independent project that was able to really pad my 9-to-5 salary. But ultimately, the gatekeeping and severe restrictions of the Sidekick App Store made developing for the platform extremely unpredictable and undesireable.

I made two incredible games for the Sidekick and was flippantly told "Sorry, we already have a poker app." I spent about 2 months working on those two titles (1 month each). It really hurt spending such a HUGE amount of time on these projects to just be rejected with zero possibility of any reconsideration.

Danger's stupid restrictions and poor management of the product were the Sidekick's ultimate downfall. The product was eventually bought by Microsoft and rebranded as the "Kin", which flopped. And it flopped hard.

The Microsoft Kin Smartphone
The Microsoft Kin phone was a horrible flop.

And only 3 years after my apps were rejected, Apple announced the iPhone SDK and the eventual creation of the App Store. That was the nail in the coffin for the Sidekick.

Do you remember the T-Mobile Sidekick? What was your first smartphone? Let me know in the comment section below.

🎰Gambling/Gaming | 🧮 Math/Programming/Technology