Peek to launch its email device in India soon

Peek to launch its email device in India soon

Bangalore: In an era of multi-tasking mobile phones, US-headquartered Peek Inc. intends to soon launch in India a hand-held device that would only access email.

The eponymously dubbed Peek is being currently test marketed and would be commercially launched in a few weeks, Peek India chief executive Siddarth Mangharam said.

The instrument would cost Rs3,999 and monthly rental for the email service would be pegged at Rs299. It would initially be available only on Aircel Ltd’s service but would later include other cellular operators too, Mangharam said.

There are some who aren’t sure whether Peek would have many takers.

“Indian consumers typically want as many features as possible in the same device," said Vivek Shenoy, an analyst at market research firm Valuenotes Database Pvt. Ltd. “So when an aspiring user can opt for a smartphone for about Rs7,000, which does so much more than just emails, I’m not sure how compelling will be the new gadget that only does email." The so-called smartphones enable users to access short messaging service and email, besides plain vanilla voice calls. They also sport cameras, music players, FM radios, games and a variety of other applications.

These phones, including Research In Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry, Nokia Oyj’s E-Series phones and Apple Inc.’s iPhone, are becoming increasingly popular across the world and in India due to their versatility.

A BlackBerry can be bought in India for about Rs16,000 and its email service costs about Rs300 a month.

Some experts are, however, unwilling to dismiss Peek’s chances. “India with its 542 million mobile subscriber base will always have a market for all kinds of gadgets," said Harish Bijoor, chief executive officer of brand and business strategy firm Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. “Peek’s appeal is the fact that it does one thing but does it well."

The instrument sports a Qwerty keyboard, weighs about 100g and has an onboard 16MB memory. It supports POP (Post Office Protocol), IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and Microsoft Exchange protocols and would sync seamlessly with popular email services such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. It can sync three email addresses at a time. Mangharam said the India operations of Peek will offer customized solutions to enterprise customers. “A sales representative could come out of a meeting and file the status report or update automatically on mail about the customer call."

He said Peek would be successful in India because a large user base is only now graduating to using email on the go.

“There is a vast market between a basic functional device and the top end BlackBerry market, which will discover the joy of using mobile email," Mangharam said. “Peek will succeed because of that market."

Lison Joseph contributed to this story.