The U.S. press hasn’t been particularly kind to the Peek email device. It isn’t that it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do – email. The issue is more that people already have their phones to do this, and those phones can also deal with images, links to websites, etc.
But the Peek may just be the perfect device for Europe, and Spain’s FON is going to take a shot at distributing it here under the brand PeekFon.
(See Robin Wauters’ take on TechCrunch Europe)
FON CEO Martin Varsavsky hinted at the deal yesterday to me backstage at the Le Web conference in Paris. Here’s why he think the Peek is perfect for Europe – avoiding roaming charges:
The Peek doesn’t make sense in the U.S., he says, because people don’t have mobile roaming charges and so their phones are perfect for email. But in Europe people get “killed” on roaming charges. The PeekFon can help solve that problem.
The PeekFon will be 99 euros to buy, a reasonable price especially considering that the price includes both the gadget and 6 months of all you can eat email service anywhere in Europe. No roaming charges. No contract.
After that we will charge euro 12.90 per month for the service but as opposed to other email machines out there, there is no cancellation penalty of any kind if the user does not want to continue with the service.
This is a complementary service to Fon WiFi but it is not a WiFi product. It is a GPRS product. The idea is that with Fon you share a little wifi at home and roam for free but the PeekFon addresses those moments in which you can’t find WiFi in spite of Fon´s over 800,000 hotspots now available in Europe. With the PeekFon you get the most important piece of messaging, your email, anytime.
Browsing, Twitter, and other functionalities will be added within months but for now buyers have to think of the PeekFon as an email machine with a full keyboard.
Why is Fon launching the PeekFon?
Because in Europe we pay huge roaming charges when we leave our own countries. As a German you can come to France and easily pay in a day what the Peek will cost in a month.
Because many people still prefer a phone that looks like a phone for phone calls and sms and an email machine for email and don’t mind carrying two devices that do their jobs well.
Because even if you never leave your country Blackberry services, iPhone and Android services in Europe cost around 50 euros a month and have minimum 2 year stays and include no talking minutes. So in Europe even if you stay at home you spend 1200 euros to get email and if you travel around Europe you spend double that on the average. This would compare with 312 euros with PeekFon vs 2400 euros if you roam and 1200 euros if you don’t. So there are enormous savings for getting email.
Having said all this Fon recognizes that “apples to apples” a Blackberry, an iPhone, an Android is a better product than a Peek and if you have the extra money to sign 1200 euros contracts and spend a few thousand more for roaming the Peek can’t compete with the complete iPhone, Blackberry, Android experience. But as a pure and simple email machine the Peek can and its price is just reasonable.