Handheld device maker Peek Nov. 3 launched TwitterPeek, a mobile device designed to let users send tweets and direct messages from the leading microblog service without incurring the data costs associated with texting on smartphones.
TwitterPeek is available exclusively from Amazon.com here for $99.95. The purchase price includes 6 months of unlimited Twitter service, a price point timed for the holiday season. When the six months elapses, the tweeting service will cost $7.95 per month, but users can pay $199 for unlimited Twitter service for the lifetime of the device.
The device, which measures four inches long, 2.7 inches wide and one-quarter inch thick, includes a full QWERTY keyboard, a click scroll wheel and boasts a color screen, letting users view HTML links as plain text and Twitpic images. It is available in charcoal gray and Twitter-hued aqua blue.
Peek is positioning TwitterPeek as a superior, more cost effective way to use Twitter from a mobile device, noting in a blog post:
""Unless you have an expensive smartphone and data plan it's hard to really experience Twitter on-the-go. Technically you can use SMS on a regular phone, but it's really not the same. So most Twitter users are stuck using the Web - and they're missing out. TwitterPeek is designed to make it affordable for people of all ages and walks of life to take the world of Twitter with them wherever they go.""
For Peek, the move is a continuation of its mission to build e-mail and texting devices as alternatives to more costly smartphones, which tend to cost $200, plus monthly service plans and data fees.
However, smartphones such as the Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry Bold, and the devices based on Google's Android mobile operating system, let users not only speak to one another, but send text messages and yes -- access Web services such as Twitter. Peek's devices lack telephony, calling into question their value proposition, even if they cost half or a third of a smartphone and its plan.
"Twitter die-hards will appreciate its 'always-on' instant tweet delivery and newbies will finally 'get Twitter' once they have TwitterPeek in hand," Peekster-in-Chief Amol Sarva said in a statement. "Even businesses that Twitter will dig TwitterPeek as a convenient way to stay connected with their customers."
To Sharma's point, there are two probable plays for the TwitterPeek.
One, it will be useful for teenagers or twenty-somethings who love to use Twitter to keep up with friends. Two, professional workers who already own smartphones but want to see what a dedicated Twitter device is like will pony up the $99 for the gadget. The question is: will they put it aside when the six months of free service expires?
Peek hopes people continue to use the TwitterPeek when the free service is up. While Twitter is popular, with a purported 60 million users, the odds are stacked against TwitterPeek.
Dedicated Web services devices will have a hard time gaining traction at a time when smartphones are impressing users with their Swiss-army knife approach to the Internet.