The $9.95-monthly service, which uses technology originally developed at NASA, lets users send and receive mail using regular or cellular telephones and devices manufactured by JVC and Sharp Electronics. The devices are held against telephone handsets to transfer messages, so plugging into a phone line and accessing a PC is not necessary.
'It's a very mass-market oriented service,'
-- PocketScience CEO Neil Peretz
"It's a very mass-market oriented service," said PocketScience CEO Neil Peretz as he demonstrated PocketMail on a prototype JVC device just slightly larger than a Palm Pilot. JVC and Sharp are set to ship the $100 to $150 devices by November.
Peretz composed a message, dialed a toll-free number, held the device to the handset, and punched a button on the device to send the message. The service can also be used to send faxes, which will cost 25 cents each to send within the U.S., and $1 each for international faxes, he said.
The PocketMail technology builds on early laptop PC technology, whereby acoustic couplers were used to send information over telephone handsets. It works with existing POP3 e-mail accounts, so users don't have to establish new e-mail addresses to use the service, Peretz said.
If users don't already have an e-mail address, they can get one through PocketMail, he said.