The Mac or jailbroken has to always be on and connected to the internet, because the host device is routing the messages to their final destination (like an Android phone). So it is not exactly an elegant solution. And it might not be practical, depending on what Beeper charges for sending out iPhone handsets.
It is highly unlikely Migicovsky is just giving away free iPhone handsets to everyone who wants one, even older models. In a follow-up Twitter post, the developer noted he had 50 iPhone 4 models “sitting here at my desk.” Working iPhone 4 handsets are typically selling for around $30 on eBay these days. That is not expensive, but it quickly adds up—a box of 50 is worth in the neighborhood of $1,500.
A lot of people are interested too, despite the unknowns. You can’t just go and download Beeper like most apps. Instead, you have to register and answer a bunch of questions, like how many hours a day you use a laptop. Offering your email and filling out the survey only gets you in line, to eventually download Beeper.
“Thanks for signing up for Beeper! Over the last 24 hours we have had a record number of people interested in using Beeper. Our focus is on providing the best possible chat experience for our users. In practice this means that we are working our way through the list one-by-one and on-boarding users as fast as possible. You are safely in line and we will keep you updated as we progress through the list,” Beeper states after filling out the survey.
It’s an interesting project for sure. In addition to attempting to bring iMessage to a wider audience, Beeper is offering the option of self-hosting. Presumably that gets around the $10/month subscription, but that’s not crystal clear at this point.