Thursday, 10 December 2009

E-mail only handset via Fon goes live – Europe

Fon, a Spanish WiFi operator, has partnered with Spotnik to offer European wide MVNO access for its new PeekFon device. PeekFon is an e-mail only mobile device. It offers no voice, web browsing or texting services as to be expected on pretty much any mobile device. The company believes there is a viable market to be exploited of those roaming across Europe in need of sending e-mails - who also do not have a device to already achieve this.

The initial cost is EUR 99 which comes with six months of free roaming. Thereafter the service will cost EUR 12.90 a month. In addition to MVNO access users will benefit from WiFi access over the Fon network.

The big question is who will pay for an e-mail only device on Fon. The availability of free WiFi across European cities is a major hindrance to the offer. Although not truly free, customers of coffee shops, museums, trains and various other service sector businesses benefit from free WiFi during their visit. It would also be fair to assume that those regularly roaming and being in need of e-mail are likely to have a WiFi compatible handset. Alternatively, those on a budget are likely just to stick with a EUR 0.30 SMS back to home, as opposed to EUR 12.90 a month.