Twitter has partnered with Peek, a startup that makes low-cost mobile messaging devices, to launch TwitterPeek, a handset designed — essentially — for Twitterholics. The 2.7 inch x 4 inch, color screen device doesn’t require WiFi, it runs on a high-speed wireless data network; users can send and receive unlimited tweets with the full QWERTY keyboard. TwitterPeek retails at Amazon for $99 with a $7.95 monthly fee, or $199 for what Peek is calling “lifetime” service. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed, so it’s not clear whether Twitter is getting a portion of the up-front costs, the monthly access fee, or both.
Peek founder Amol Sarva tells Venture Capital Dispatch that Twitter approached his startup with the idea of developing a co-branded device in June; N.Y.-based Peek got the product ready to launch within four months. Kevin Thau, Twitter’s director of mobile business development, told us the company was working on deals for Twitter-enabled handsets and devices, in May.
The challenge for Twitter and Peek will be to convince consumers that they need to buy another mobile device just for Twitter access — since TwitterPeek doesn’t offer e-mail and almost every smartphone can access the service with clients like Tweetie and TweetDeck. Sarva told VC Dispatch that the companies were going after social media marketers and companies that rely heavily on Twitter to promote their businesses. The TwitterPeek launch also aligns with Twitter’s goal of getting more people to use its service via mobile device; Sarva said it was designed to get people that may have tried and disliked Twitter on the desktop to “realize how fun it is.”
Peek, formerly called Txtable, is backed by around $20 million in funding from L Capital Partners and RRE Ventures, including a $4.9 million round this April, per an SEC filing. Founded in 2007, the company launched its first portable e-mail device, the Peek, through Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) last September. Peek’s other devices retail from about $19 to $299 with monthly, annual and unlimited service options.