It won’t let you make phone calls (why use a smartphone for phone calls anyway?), but Spot Satellite Messenger does have gps capabilities and allows outgoing text messages and emails from anywhere on planet earth. A cursory glance at their site shows the hardware retailing for $169.99, but I’m unclear as to whether or not that includes any service time. It does include the option of 15% off the regular service fee (starting at $99 a year, so apprx. $85 for a years’ worth of service), along with a flashlight, safety whistle and a bandanna with safety tips printed on it. Ummm, okay.
Loosely speaking, I’d put this in the same category as the Sprint Peel and the MiFi. They’re all neat devices that fill a niche, and I expect to see more of these supplemental technologies in the future. The problem is the perceived value of such devices. If customers don’t feel that the benefits justify the costs, then the service and the company are on shaky ground (e.g. TerreStar).