We launched Peek 9 this week, into the obviously very busy market for mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, various qwerty phones that have some apps, and all the rest.
We must be nuts, right?
Peek launched on the premise that the smartphone revolution was on its way and some day everyone would be connected all the time — for fun, for work, for all kinds of reasons. And people would eventually be using various gadgets (the way most people have lots of TVs or multiple cameras) and constantly linked to real-time web applications like email etc.
We figured all the Big Guys like Nokia, Blackberry, and Google would try to kill the iPhone — by cloning it, topping it, remixing it —and that Apple would keep trying to outdo itself. So far so good.
We also figured that they’d drop the price on the hardware to “FREE!!!” (***with contract) but raise, not lower your monthly bills along the way.
The third hope was that the LGs and Samsungs of the world would keep their deep loyalties to Verizon, AT&T, etc., and make voice the centre of everything they do. They would make phones that “do what Peek does,” but they do it worse and at higher overall cost because you have to bundle it with voice and sign contracts. This is true too.
What we did not count on, however, was how many business customers would actually want to use our product. We figured Blackberry had that market all-sewn up.
We wanted to target a market where non-consumption was the competitor — we’d get people to start using us when they used to “use pen and paper.”
Turns out…there is this whole pool of non-users in companies everywhere. Executives use smartphones like crazy — but the front-line staff usually does not. Delivery crews, hotel staff, service professionals…these guys are toting RAZR2s. And the company would never give them a distracting, breakable, expensive, long-contract toy.
There are tons of first-time users, too.
But we’ve been finding companies to be extremely rational buyers — they see the value of real-time apps for the front lines, see the price is 90 per cent lower than smartphones, and they pull the trigger.
So we made Peek 9. It’s way, way faster than anything we previously shipped and dramatically superior to “I can do e-mail on my phone” junk apps. Certainly easier to set up any account, quickly glance at e-mail, write replies on our awesome keyboard, use for days on one charge, etc. And it’s way cheaper— it’s now half the monthly cost of what we originally launched at. Almost entirely due to better engineering and scale on our part. So one Peek 9 is a full $90 cheaper per month than the average $100/month smartphone.
And we added texting, Facebook updates, Twitter, Streams, and Peektop Apps that the user can control (i.e., turn off or customise for their group). Location services built in (e.g., track your trucks). A few other goodies. For the same monthly price.
Boring, but that’s what’s selling Peeks. It’s a totally different type of user than the ones in the market for smartphones. It’s not the mums we thought we’d get, but we love it. And that’s the kind of smart, simple, thrifty customer that smartphones do not serve.
But yes, we are a little nuts.
Amol Sarva is co-founder and CEO of Peek, a NYC-based mobile gadget startup.