The market for dedicated email hardware is heating up with the arrival of a new entrant, telephone handset maker Cidco, and news that market pioneer, Pocketscience, is on the verge of international expansion.
The two vendors' products are priced similarly in the US at about $100 each and approximately $10 per month for the service, which enables users to send and receive email.
But the offerings are targeted at different markets with Cidco's Mailstation, which has just gone on sale, being aimed at users who want the convenience of email, but do not want to pay for a fully fledged laptop or desktop PC.
They connect to the service via a phone cord and jack and the machine weighs 2.2 lbs and can store 100 pages of messages. It also includes a spell checker, calculator, calendar with personal notes and a printer option.
Pocketscience's Pocketmail device, on the other hand, is aimed at mobile customers who want to retrieve and send email messages while on their travels.
It was launched on 28 December last year, and according to David Westendorf, Pocketscience's director of marketing communications, now has "tens of thousands" of customers, including people that the company never thought of such as truckers and recreational vehicle travelers.
Customers hold the device, which fits into a jacket pocket, against the telephone, much like the old acoustic couplers. It displays only eight lines of 40 characters and the service cannot deliver more than 4,000 characters per message.
Westendorf said Pocketscience would announce an inaugural international venture in about two weeks, but would not comment further. But he added that Pocketmail technology was being adapted to run on other platforms, including the Palm OS.
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