Ask anyone what proven wireless killer apps are, and they’ll tell you: voice and e-mail. Well, for years now, mobile e-mail has been the prerogative of the well-to-do: You had to buy a BlackBerry or another expensive smartphone and a costly data plan to use it.
Well, that’s about to change. This week, I’d reviewed Peek, an inexpensive device soon to become available at Target that allows for mobile e-mail access for $20 a month. Now comes the news that European carrier 3 has started to offer mobile e-mail to its voice subscribers for about $3.60 a month. This price includes a little bit of Web surfing, too.
I think U.S. carriers have to follow 3’s suit, and soon. In the past, they’d used mobile e-mail as a carrot to get people to sign up for data plans. But not everyone can afford to pay $30 a month for wireless data. A cheaper, e-mail-only offering would bring mobile e-mail into the mainstream, the same way that $10-a-month messaging plans have made SMS so popular. Why shouldn’t mobile e-mail become as common as SMS? No reason at all.