From the company called Peek, the makers of handheld devices dedicated to checking email on-the-go, there now comes another single-purpose gadget, this one for checking Twitter. The new TwitterPeek is a mobile device that lets you access the microblogging network from anywhere in the U.S. with no hefty data fees or contracts to sign, just as the company's original Peek devices let you do with email.
The idea of a standalone Twitter handheld seems so far-fetched that we almost thought it was a joke - at least until we stumbled across this Amazon.com page listing the device for pre-order. Now the question is: who will buy this thing?
Peek for Email Makes Sense
To some extent, we understand the appeal of the Peek handheld. Email is an essential part of doing business today but not everyone can afford a smartphone and the expensive monthly data plan required to use it. The Peek gives those sorts of penny-pinchers an alternative. For a one-time purchase price (starting at $19.99 on Amazon) and a reasonable monthly data fee of $15, Peek users are given a cheap way to read and respond to email on-the-go. Designed primarily for non-technical users, the Peek device is like a scaled-down Blackberry with less buttons, no microphone or speaker, no web browser or apps, and no scroll wheel - only a thumb wheel on the side. All it does is email, plain text email. No attachments, no formatting, no embedded graphics.
Despite its overly simplistic nature, the Peek makes sense. It connects people to their personal or, more likely, their business email accounts for an affordable price - and that's something that serves a real need in a down economy such as this.
...but Peek for Twitter?
However, the new TwitterPeek seems...well...sort of crazy, to be honest. Who's so addicted to Twitter that they're going to purchase this device instead of using Twitter's SMS service or just breaking down and buying a device capable of running apps or surfing the web? We know Twitter is a lot of fun, but is it really so essential that we need a standalone device?
At this point, the company would have almost been better off launching a Facebook handheld than a Twitter device. Twitter just hasn't achieved the sort of "must-have" status that would make people want something like this. We would bet that the majority of Americans wouldn't have even heard of the social network if it weren't for its adoption by celebrities like Oprah, Shaq, Ashton, Demi, and others or its heavily promoted use by news networks like CNN. Still, even though Twitter is no longer a foreign word to Americans' ears, that doesn't mean that the masses are actually using it. Oh don't get us wrong - they try. But earlier this year, Nielsen reported that more than 60% of Twitter's first time users abandon the service within a month of signing up. They just don't "get it" or see the need, they don't know how to find people to follow, and they certainly don't know how to get people to follow them back.
Yet it's this very demographic - the somewhat non-technical mainstream audience - that Peek exclusively markets their products to. These people can't even figure out how to properly use Twitter, but they're going to buy a standalone Twitter handheld? We don't think so.
Currently, Amazon lists two types of TwitterPeek devices: one with 6 months of service included for $99.95 or one with lifetime service for $199.95. The devices come in gray or a very Twitter-like aqua.