Peek Abruptly Shuts Down All Devices To Focus On Software For Actual Smartphones

The Peek9 is a very simple device: sort of a smartphone for people who don’t want a smartphone. It does text-based e-mail, Facebook status updates, and Twitter, and text messages for a price that’s a lot cheaper than mobile data plans. Reader KellyAnne bought a Peek Pronto with lifetime service, which was then transferred to a Peek9 in 2010 when all Peek Prontos mysteriously stopped working. Now that lifetime is up. It appears that all Peek hardware has stopped working, and KellyAnne can’t get her e-mail and has no idea what’s going on.

I bought a Peek Pronto from Peek Inc about two years ago. back in October 2010, Peek upgraded to a new product Peek9 and everyone’s Peek Pronto fried. We were all offered Peek9s for $1 and I took advantage since I had paid for the $300 lifetime subscription. Over the last two days I couldn’t get any email on the device. I couldn’t add a new email. Their websites are all down. (www.getpeek.com and http://www.peek9.com). The customer service number has been disconnected and the email bounces. WTF?

I see on their Twitter account that all it’s “End of an era. The old Peek hardware is now 100% offline”. Well, wtf? I did get an email after I saw that. With a “sorry to report that”. Uh…. Apparently, the forums have been removed and I can’t even find another person who has one to find out what’s going on. Help?

KellyAnne isn’t the only person who still owns a Peek-a few Engadget readers do, too. They got a statement from Peek CEO Amol Sarva. It’s not another outage. The old Peek devices have been permanently shut down. Yes, the terms of service allow for this, but that doesn’t make it any less abrupt and obnoxious.

Unfortunately we cannot maintain the network forever for a few users, so that end time has come. The networks are changing standards, protocols etc and the old units are now end of life. We have lots going with rapid adoption of our software by phone brands around the world, so Peek is flat out building for a number of platforms that our OEM customers are deploying like Android and Mediatek. We are not offering a Peek-made device to replace these old ones.

Well, okay, but why shut down so abruptly? Users like KellyAnne who bought the $300 Peek Pronto service bundle have had more than two years to enjoy their service. The thing is, no one seems to have heard anything about the shutdown until after it already happened. Peek’s own blog explained why they were ending service on Februrary 1st in a post made on February 2nd. They wrote:

Believe it or not a few people were still using regular old Original Peeks until the end of January, and unfortunately that service is now offline. Not really possible to continue supporting the old September 2008 Peek service. (We launched Peek in September 2008 and are end of lifing on Feb 1, 2012. Compare to the other famous phone platform that launched in September 2008 — T-Mobile’s Google G1, EOL Jul 2010.)

In the case of the G1, end of life meant that T-Mobile stopped selling the phone. They didn’t shut down their whole network and delete the user forums.

People like to laugh at Peek, especially their Twitter-only device. Back in 2009, our gizmo-testing friends down the hall at Consumer Reports declared the TwitterPeek the “epic fail of the week.” Gizmodo’s headline called the device “so dumb it makes my brain hurt” and imagined a variety of other single-use and largely useless Peeks.

Peek killing off US email and Twitter devices after ‘lifelong service’ [Engadget]
Old Peeks, testbeds [Peek]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    This sucks! A friend of mine used these devices because a regular cell wouldn’t have worked for them. Very unfortunate.

  2. sendbillmoney says:

    Abruptly. Just sayin’.

  3. jmhart says:

    The company seems to be taking a “ha ha, sucks for you” attitude.

    I hope they go out of business.

  4. AEN says:

    Now that you remind me, does my lifetime subscription to Blockbuster still work?

  5. scoosdad says:

    A Peek for reading and commenting on Consumerist only! It has a function key on it for saying, “I make my own ***** at home.)

    (I loved the Gizmodo suggestions for a Peek for telling time or seeing if it was raining outside).

    • Don't Bother says:

      I’m guessing that button would be located next to the “I blame the OP” button.

      • SexCpotatoes says:

        You laugh, but weather was accessible by hitting the ‘W’ key. Gave you current conditions and the next two or three days’ forecast w/high & low.

    • ellemdee says:

      Add an “edit comment” button and I have a feeling it would do well.

  6. deathbecomesme says:

    What a crappy way to treat your customers. If I paid for a “lifetime service” for any device and the company decided that lifetime only meant 2 or 3 years I would be steaming mad. Looking for any loopholes in the contract that I can take them to small claims for.

  7. humphrmi says:

    This is why I don’t sign up for any “lifetime” services. It’s almost a guarantee that anyone offering “lifetime” anything will go out of business long before their rivals.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Megaupload also agrees with you as they offered lifetime subscriptions. Sucks for the legitimate users who were using the service for school/work and suddenly had it shut down on them.

  8. chucklebuck says:

    How hackable is the hardware? Seems like a device with keyboard, screen & wireless radio could still be put to use even without Peek’s services (assuming they didn’t lock the bootloader or put some ROM checksumming in place).

    • PeekofSh!t says:

      OP here. the Peek forums were full of technical info on how to turn your obsolete Peek Classic of Peek Pronto into a mini-ereader and a host of other ideas. those forums are gone, though. i don’t have enough tech cred to figure out how to turn my two Peeks into anything other than paperweights.

  9. q`Tzal says:

    I love the way we’ve been trained not to bat an eye when a tech company say $*it like:
    2 to 3 year items are “old and unsupportable technology” and that our “lifetime” is now in the same 3 year range.

    I understand that tech moves fast and the economics don’t support their “lifetime” plan but some of us still remember what a binding contract is and some of us even still remember real lifetime warranties.
    Perhaps other companies will be a bit more circumspect in tossing out broad terminology that the courts will force them to uphold.

  10. Mr Grey says:

    The discussion boards are 404…

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    A) Small Claims is probably the only recourse, unless your credit card plays ball.

    B) If I had known about a non-phone-based phone I might have bought one. Everyone loves to send me texts, pictures, and videos to my non-smartphone and rack up my monthly phone charges.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      yes, this does sound like a device I might have wanted–I don’t tweet or FB, but I did want a cellphone-sized device for texting and light email/web browsing… that wasn’t a cell phone.

  12. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    They should have given their users a warning that they were going to shut down service, even if it was a day or so, just so they could download their email. That’s pretty crappy that they sent the notice after the fact. I suspect that was on purpose so they wouldn’t get a lot of calls & emails from their customers.

  13. FrugalFreak says:

    lifetime of the device, not Your lifetime. Remember this when buying lifetime products or services. Lifetime may be 6 months if they decide it so.

  14. SmokeyBacon says:

    Wow that sucks – it seems unfair that they didn’t allow users to at least get their email downloaded and switched before shutting down. I hadn’t heard of the device to be honest but it sounds like it would have been a great item for people who didn’t want to have that stuff sent to their phones for whatever reason (there are probably a lot of them).

  15. SexCpotatoes says:

    I had/still have one of these. I bought one of the TwitterPeeks in May 2010 when I saw them on sale with lifetime service for $117 and change on Amazon. They eventually stopped servicing the twitterpeeks in Nov/Dec of 2010 and sold everyone new (same) hardware with a different SIM card. Theories were they stopped paying or stiffed an intermediary payment processor or network provider and decided to contract directly with Tmobile themselves.

    So I got a “new” Peek9 for $8 counting shipping, and I got Email, FB, Twitter, and set up Texting with Google Voice (even got my Voicemails transcribed & push-emailed to my device.

    The Peeks would also let you view PDFs, Jpegs, attachments, and even view links in tweets/emails/facebook postings. When you clicked ‘view attachment’ their servers would scrape the text from the blog post or article and deliver it to your device. It was a pretty neat way to read/tweet/text/email/kill time.

    I will not be getting a cell phone to replace it. I can’t see paying $100+ every month for a STUPiDphone or Android. Perhaps I can use my old Peek devices to write short stories or a novel on, if I can figure out how to extract the text. Because the odds of someone actually getting the carriers to let us access data with these for a fair price are completely nonexistent.

    • Don't Bother says:

      Have you looked at Straight Talk plans? They aren’t that expensive for an alternative.

      • SexCpotatoes says:

        Yeah, I still can’t see paying $20-50 per month just to get unlimited texting and semi-crippled webbrowsing when I had that for just over $6 per month for close to the last 2 years.

        Cell phones are so ubiquitous, I don’t need need one. I just don’t have the “for emergencies, you’ll die without one” consumer programming installed in me.

  16. MyTQuinn says:

    I’m shocked that anyone using such a device even knows about Consumerist. I guess they just need to accept the fate of their devices and move on to something bigger and better, like AOL (sorry, Aol). :)

  17. evilpete says:

    Killing the forums is a good way to stop users from locating each other

  18. Outrun1986 says:

    It seems kind of stupid to pay for a device just to update Twitter and Facebook on the run, but some people would have done it. I don’t know what these did but if it did real SMS then it would have been worth it if it was totally unlimited. But I can see the device being attractive to those who don’t want to pay a huge phone bill every month.

    The only product that does mobile well now is the iPod touch, and those don’t have cell service, they only have wifi so you have to hope there is wifi wherever you go if you have one. Sadly the iPod touch has no competitors, at least in the USA.

  19. dush says:

    “Not really possible to continue supporting the old September 2008 Peek service.”

    That seems like an outright lie from a technology standpoint.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      How much are the carriers paying them to shut these devices off so they can potentially convert peek users into users that pay $100+ a month for cell phone bills, thus making the phone companies more profit.

  20. khooray says:

    I’ve wondered why no one makes a product like this that doesn’t have to be a phone with a data plan.
    It would be perfect for my teenage daughter & I could still text her.

  21. muceybbds says:

    Apruptly typing causes typos.