In this weekly series, Andrew Eborn shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that – for one reason or another – failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into the Octopus TV Failure Awards and a place in The Museum of Failure. Today, it's the turn of Twitter Peek.
Peek Inc is a mobile tech company founded in 2007 by three of the first four employees of Virgin Mobile USA.
In September 2008 Peek launched its first product “the Peek” – an email-only handheld device.
In 2008 Time selected Peek as one of the 50 Best Inventions of the Year. It was voted the #1 entry in the Gadget of the Year review on Time.com.
Wired Magazine also named Peek its number one gadget in its "Gear of the Year" feature, pointing out that "not every gadget needs a carnival of features. Take the Peek, which tackles just a single task: mobile email. No phone, no browser, no camera — and no apologies.…. this one-trick pony is a godsend.”
Peek Inc Duck
Encouraged by the phenomenal success of its first product, Peek Inc assumed that one trick ponies were the way to go and so in 2009 it introduced the Twitter Peek (aka "The Tweek") – a portable device that only does Twitter. Yours for $199.
While the email Peek was a #StunningSuccess, the Tweek was a #FabulousFailure
CNN listed it as one of the top 10 biggest technology failures of 2009, pointing out that the reaction of many to the release of the Twitter Peek was a collective, "Huh? I already have a $200 device to update Twitter... it's called my iPhone."
Gizmodo, meanwhile, named Twitter Peek as one of the "50 Worst Gadgets of the Decade”.
The main question is why this product ever existed?
It’s rather like selling an oven that can only cook Colgate Beef Lasagne.
Even if people did want a device that only did Twitter – which they didn’t – you would have to make sure it does Twitter well. The fact is the Tweek failed at doing that as it missed many Twitter functions.
Using the Tweek was a painfully slow experience. The messages were truncated with only the first 20 characters being shown. Clicking on links brought up a “horribly slow browser” that displayed poorly formatted text only version of the linked webpage and the Tweek only supported one account.
There was a deluge of damning reviews, like this from Gizmodo:
“This is a device that is built on flawed logic and executed poorly. I can't think of a single person in a single situation where this would make sense. I just can't believe this thing exists.”
PC Magazine gave it just one and a half stars – “dismal”.
It was a device designed to solve a problem that just did not exist.
As Gizmodo asked: "What's next…. How about a batman utility belt full of like 20 devices each doing the equivalent of one app, for seven bucks a month, each?”
As PC Magazine pointed out: “Twitter is already a pretty stripped-down service. TwitterPeek makes it less useful, less flexible, and less interesting...
"Twitter Peek is for people who want Twitter, but don't want to surf the Web on their phones. Do they exist?”
On February 1 2012, Peek announced that it had terminated service for all its dedicated hardware in a move to cloud-only service.
Lesson to be learnt
Past success does not guarantee future performance. As always, carry out research to ensure that there is actually a market for your product and if you do decide to launch a new product ensure that that product delivers what it promises.
The Twitter Peek failed on several levels – both flawed logic and execution. For these reasons the Tweek is this week’s nomination for The Octopus TV Failure Awards.
As Frankie Howerd would say – Twitter ye not!
From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.
Send your nominations with full description and images to TOFA@OctopusTV.com