I had a Blackberry early in the decade -- I mean an original Blackberry that only handled email. I bet a lot of current Blackberry users don't even know that phone functionality only came to the Blackberry a few years ago. But I can't imagine going back to an email only Blackberry even though that original device worked very well. So I can't figure out why the new Peek wireless email appliance is a good idea with a chance at success. If you haven't seen it, the Peel looks a bit like one of the rectangular Blackberry PDAs, costs $100 (on sale for $80 right now), and relies on $20/month service with no contract required.
If you want to read more, I'll point you to a couple of reviews. Edward Baig had a short article describing Peek basics and a full review, in USA Today. And the Gadgets blog offered up a review. Both were largey positive. Peek also has some accolades from other sources on its web site.
Now I haven't used one of the devices. And I doubt I ever will. I just can't imagine carrying another device when cell phones, and certainly smartphones, do email really well. I do like the service price. I've repeatedly criticized the cellular service providers over the years for the way that they have priced data service. There's not a one out of the four majors in the US that offers a fair deal. Maybe the low service price will draw some consumers to Peek. The reviews claim that the device is targeted at people who don't want a smartphone and perhaps don't even use email on a computer. It sounds like a stretch to me. I felt USA Today's Baig was way to positive in his praise for the device.
I would like to see what's inside the Peek. According to the Gadget's review it has a relatively low-performance 100-MHz processor -- presumably from Qualcomm. My guess is that Peek is hitting the $100 price point with no service contract by using older cell-phone chips that Qualcomm can't sell to other customers. I'd speculate that it's a 2G GSM modem that doesn't even have Edge support. Using a mature cheap chip set might be a good idea for other products. What else might be affordable if a design teams stays well behind the leading edge?