It took me a while to understand what this Sidebar application is about, but eventually it became clear: Sidebar is a push application that recommends content to you on your BlackBerry. Or, in their own words…
Sidebar is a personal content recommendation and delivery engine. In short, we find the fun stuff (videos, apps, games, podcasts, photos, news updates, interviews, chances to win great prizes, jokes, music, sports, fashion advice, etc.) in the mobile world and make it easy for you to discover, access, and share. New content arrives daily. We’ll let you know when it does so you don’t miss out on anything. The more you use Sidebar, the better we get at picking stuff you like.
I haven’t tested it yet, but the rest of the description makes it sound a lot like Last.fm: they throw at you something they think you are going to like, and you indicate whether you like it or not. The more you use it, the more the software “learns” what you like and adjusts the pushed content accordingly.
I have mixed feelings about that. The first time I used Last.fm, right after it was made available, I was impressed at how fast it learned my taste and actually succeeded at playing songs that I liked more than 95% of the time. Unfortunately, that apparent accomplishment wore off pretty quickly. The selection became quite restricted, repetitive, obvious. Instead of pleasing me, the thing was really boring me.
This is not Last.fm though. I haven’t even used Last.fm in a very long time, to be honest about it. Maybe they have improved their system, and maybe Sidebar has a much better system. You be the judge.
Getting the software isn’t very easy. They have this annoying system that only sends you a link by SMS. In other words, only U.S. carriers are welcome. Why they can’t just provide a clear link for people to download and install the app is beyond me. But then I found out it is possible to install the app from this link with the BlackBerry browser. But it has to be in the BlackBerry mode, not Firefox or Internet Explorer. I was able to download and install using that approach, but the application didn’t work for me.
Let me know if you have better luck. Also, I recommend reading their FAQ. They can be interesting. Most notably, they state that the application and service are free, the content is paid by sponsors. I am afraid that could limit the content, but only a hands-on experience will tell. Like I said, the application didn’t work for me. You may also want to read this press release.