[image – wikipedia.org]
During the birth of the Smartphone a little startup decided to go against the grain with a low cost email option. Learning that people care far about cost then you may think.
[image credit – engadget.com]
Back during the birth of the Smartphone a lot of things were confusing. Most users couldn’t understand why you would spend $30 a month for data when my plain old cell phone works quite fine thank you. Into this void stepped Amol Sarva with an idea. What if there was a simple device that allowed you to get your email for only $10 a month. He created a company that even innovated ways of getting information into your email that would have normally only been on a smartphone. Things such as the weather, instant messages, text messages, Wikipedia entries ect. They got very creative with the delivery of information to the little Peek device.
The let down was the Peek itself as well as the thought of carrying around yet another device no matter how small. To many corners were cut to lower the price of entry. The little Peek had a 104mhz Texas Instruments processor as well as eight megabytes of memory. By the release of the Peek in 2008 these numbers would seem horribly out of date. Sure it had a color screen to get around this but it still looked and felt cheap. On the flip side usability was very impressive. Between the raised letters on the keyboard to the dial on the left hand side using the GUI couldn’t have been simpler.
[image credit – Geekdiary.com]
The Peek used a T-mobile cellular data connection that part of the monthly charges for the unit. T-Mobile’s coverage at this point was spotty but enough to allow it work. Next was that it was marketed through Target to be seen by a larger audience. Even the salespeople were trained in the device. This was much a change over the MSN Direct devices. Sales were still slow with the early adopters being very enthusiastic about their little email boxes such as your faithful author here who owns two.
[image credit – techcrunch.com]
To help sales a couple upgraded models were released. First was the Twitter Peek which received horrid reviews as well as being a sales failure. Since Twitter already allowed you to receive messages through email and you could post using services like ping.fm it wasn’t an improvement over the original. The last gasp was the Peek 9 upgrade. The most important change was the addition of push email. Instead of setting a timer to check your email now you received them instantly.
Although not much of the hardware had changed it made all the old devices obsolete. Peek allowed original device owners to purchase a $30 cable and do the software upgrade to convert their old devices to Peek 9’s. Still the sales were slow and Target made its announcement it be blowing out the Peek devices.
[image – engadget.com]
The Peek service ran from 2008 until 2012 when it was unceremoniously discontinued with the word that only a handful of users still were using the device. The Peek company has moved on to becoming a software provider in the Indian and other growing markets. Still this begs the question, like MSN Direct, of how old technology has to be to be considered old. In a four year period the Peek went from being old to obsolete. It saw the rise of the Blackberry, Apple and Android. It saw its own role put aside as users considered the cost of data to be a necessary evil. In the end it was still a good answer to a question nobody asked.