GoSolarUSA has finalized an agreement with Chinese gear-maker Yosian to bring the Apple Peel 520 to the United States. The add-on device is billed as a way to convert an Apple iPod touch into a full-fledged telephone: it includes a battery, sim card, phone hardware, and a dock connector, and attaches to an iPod touch like a carrying case. Once set up, the Apple Peel enables users to place phone calls as well as send and receive text messages via the iPod touch.
The Apple Peel doesn’t convert an iPod touch into a full-fledged iPhone, but it’s a lot more phone than the standalone iPod touch—and, since users can opt for bare-minimum or prepaid service plans—the Apple Peel could be substantially cheaper than an iPhone in the long term. The Apple Peel’s battery provides up to five hours of talk time and 120 hours of standby time.
GoSolarUSA says the first demonstration models of the Apple Peel 520 should arrive in the U.S. this week, and the company is looking to make a deal with a large retailer like Wal-mart, Radio Shack, Best Buy, and/or Fry’s Electronics. “We’re obviously very confident that consumer demand is high for the Apple Peel 520, and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on the first batch,” said GoSolarUSA president and CEO Tyson Rohde, in a statement. “The amount of interest in this product that we’ve received from distributors has been staggering.”
The company says it’s also adapting the Apple Peel 520 for use with Apple’s new fourth-generation iPod touch.
The success of a device like the Apple Peel in the U.S. market probably depends on how well GoSolarUSA can maintain a price gap between a regular iPhone and an iPod touch plus an Apple Peel—keep the cost difference significant, and GoSolarUSA might be able to tap into a nascent market of users who want a basic phone with the iPod touch’s bells and whistles. The units are on sale in China for a cost of around $80—which doesn’t include the cost of phone service.
GoSolarUSA might also face some attention from Sprint: it’s developing its own 3G-capable case for the iPod touch also called “The Peel.”