May 1, 2006 9:00 PM PDT

Helio kicks off cell phone service

Helio, a new mobile phone service designed for the young and hip crowd, will officially launch Tuesday.

Helio, which is a joint venture between SK Telecom in Korea and EarthLink, has been hyped since its inception last year.

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Video: More than just a phone call
Helio CEO Sky Dayton says his company's service is for those who want to take their friends everywhere.

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Video: Bringing Korean innovation to backward America
Dayton shows off the company's mobile service.

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Video: CEO: Helio is 'portable MySpace'
CEO says he's bringing new mobile functions to the laggard U.S. market.

Headed by Sky Dayton, the founder of EarthLink, Helio is what is called an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. The company uses the wireless infrastructure of Sprint Nextel to deliver its service. On top of that service it has built features that it hopes will appeal to a niche of young, big spenders.

MVNOs have become popular in the past year, as big brands develop new mobile services to target narrow market segments that the larger mobile phone carriers aren't reaching. For example, Disney Mobile is going after families; ESPN is targeting the young sports-watching male; while Virgin Mobile has focused on the teenage audience that shops in its music stores.

To differentiate its mobile service from what's already available from the big carriers, Helio has focused on providing easy access to mobile Internet content such as games, music and video. Earlier this year, it announced deals with MySpace.com and Yahoo.

"Helio isn't for everyone," Dayton said. "It's a service that has been custom-built for the lifestyle of young people who have their mobile device at the center of their universe."

The company has developed several of its own features, including something it calls Helio on Top, or HOT, which allows subscribers to program live content feeds to be sent directly to their Helio device's idle screen. Subscribers can select from 10 different live channels, including CNN, Fox Sports, MTV News, MySpace, Surfline and Yahoo.

Helio has also developed new features called "gifting" and "begging" that make it easier for customers to share purchased mobile content among friends. Gifting lets people purchase a music video, game or piece of content directly from their handset and have it delivered, over the air, to another Helio subscriber's device. Begging does the opposite by allowing people to "beg" another Helio subscriber to purchase content for them.

Last month, the company unveiled the two phones that will be used for the service: the Hero, which costs $275 and the Kickflip, which sells for $250. Each device features 2.2-inch, color LCD displays, removable memory, and a 2-megapixel camera with digital zoom and flash for capturing pictures and video. The Hero also comes with stereo speakers. Because Helio's subscribers are likely to view their phones as accessories, they can also sync their address books over the air to another Helio phone.

"Just as people have different shoes or handbags that they wear at different times, they'll also use different phones," Dayton said. "We're getting to the point where cell phones are more than communication tools; they're accessories, too."

Dayton also claims Helio's pricing will be unique because it's not "nickel and diming" consumers, forcing them to pay separately for mobile Internet or text messaging services. Helio's All-In Membership includes unlimited night time and weekend voice calling, voice and video messaging, mobile Internet surfing, such as MySpace browsing and Yahoo searches, or access to the 3G network to download content for a fixed rate. The service has three tiers of pricing based on minutes used: 1,000 anytime minutes costs $85 per month; 1,500 anytime minutes costs $100 per month; and 2,500 anytime minutes costs $135 per month. Helio games are priced at a flat rate of $5.99 to buy, or subscribers can opt to trial games by renting a game for a week for 99 cents.

Starting Tuesday, Helio phones and service will be available online, or by calling 888-88-HELIO. By the end of May, phones will be in nearly 1,000 retail locations, and in 3,000 by the end of the year. Helio's distribution partners include leading national and regional retail chains such as Fry's Electronics and Tower Records. Helio will also be available at more than 100 college and university bookstores across the nation.

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27 comments

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A New Way To Waste Time and Money
It's amazing how quickly people will sign up to have their pockets picked. $85 - $125 a month to IM, play games and be further distracted while driving!? What an incredible waste.

How many of the young people that this product targets still need a college education or have outstanding student loans? The typical monthly student loan Payment for a 4 year degree at a public university (tuition, room, books) is $319.57.

Let's look at an alternative. Start with a $200 investment (the cost of the phone) and invest an additional $50 (difference between basic cell service and minimum helios plan) a month. We'll assume a 6% rate of return. In ten years you will have: $8,375 (6,000 principal + $2,275 interest)

This represents enough money for a down payment on a house, purchase of a pre-owned car for cash, a tuition fund for the next generation, etc. Which is better use of financial resources for the individual and our country?

We MUST stop our addiction to toys and things for things sake and start investing our time, talent and treasure wisely. If we don't we will continue further down the path of enslavement to material things and a sub-standard culture.
Posted by westrajc (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do research on the product before you type..
Again just to reiterate since you did not go to their website and check out the service, the basic price for service is $40 and 500 minutes (again 50 more minutes than the typical national verizon/cingular plan for the same amount of money). Helio offers more minutes for the same cost.

Before you preach read and know the product, you don't have to buy into the additional services. The only investment initially that is at a high cost is the phone.
Posted by liquidgroove (4 comments )
Link Flag
junk
I fully agree with.
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Link Flag
I agree with westrajc
Indulgent dumb people are living for today and have nothing later and then regret being stupid. Look around at how many are realizing, in their late 20's and early 30's, that they should have played less and gotten the degree earlier when they had the energy and did not have obligations (alimony, child support, credit card balances).
A basic phone is fine for 90% of the population; all the other stuff is JUNK.
Posted by eeemang (217 comments )
Link Flag
A New Way To Waste Time and Money
It's amazing how quickly people will sign up to have their pockets picked. $85 - $125 a month to IM, play games and be further distracted while driving!? What an incredible waste.

How many of the young people that this product targets still need a college education or have outstanding student loans? The typical monthly student loan Payment for a 4 year degree at a public university (tuition, room, books) is $319.57.

Let's look at an alternative. Start with a $200 investment (the cost of the phone) and invest an additional $50 (difference between basic cell service and minimum helios plan) a month. We'll assume a 6% rate of return. In ten years you will have: $8,375 (6,000 principal + $2,275 interest)

This represents enough money for a down payment on a house, purchase of a pre-owned car for cash, a tuition fund for the next generation, etc. Which is better use of financial resources for the individual and our country?

We MUST stop our addiction to toys and things for things sake and start investing our time, talent and treasure wisely. If we don't we will continue further down the path of enslavement to material things and a sub-standard culture.
Posted by westrajc (78 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Do research on the product before you type..
Again just to reiterate since you did not go to their website and check out the service, the basic price for service is $40 and 500 minutes (again 50 more minutes than the typical national verizon/cingular plan for the same amount of money). Helio offers more minutes for the same cost.

Before you preach read and know the product, you don't have to buy into the additional services. The only investment initially that is at a high cost is the phone.
Posted by liquidgroove (4 comments )
Link Flag
junk
I fully agree with.
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Link Flag
I agree with westrajc
Indulgent dumb people are living for today and have nothing later and then regret being stupid. Look around at how many are realizing, in their late 20's and early 30's, that they should have played less and gotten the degree earlier when they had the energy and did not have obligations (alimony, child support, credit card balances).
A basic phone is fine for 90% of the population; all the other stuff is JUNK.
Posted by eeemang (217 comments )
Link Flag
Funny
For users who enjoy things like this others see it as a waste of money. A recent user posted a comment about college tuition etc. etc. I agree in some cases that things like this are a waste of money but for someone like me who likes to keep in touch with family and friends $85 for 1000 minutes, Nights and Weekends, and Data is a deal. For example on Verizon: $59.99 = 900 minutes (100 minutes less), $15 for VCAST (video, unlimited mobile web), $20 for 2500 additional messages (most people won't be on Helio yet so IN doesn't matter, and more features that Verizon just can't touch. That's almost $100 and we haven't even included taxes yet. The same goes for sprint (you get the anytime minutes) but you will pay $20-25 for data, unlimited text for $15. Helio is a bargin for people that use these services and could save you between 10-20 dollars a month.

Dayton is very smart at the service price point, he just needs to come down on his equipment. The major players (Sprint, Verizon, etc) have alot to look at and it looks like we have a new major player in the wireless business.
Posted by liquidgroove (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
On Helio
People who think that this Helio service is a good thing rarely stay faithful to it forever. For they have found something interesting for the time being, and when the next thing comes around, they will then follow that. Their defection will lead the 'hype' to fail.

Using some examples, take Apple's iPod. The iPod is more than just hype, it is the next best thing to music (considering what currently existed).

Back to Helio, it is just 'hype' and offers very little to the consumer. the major carriers offer quality and consistency of delivery. Hype implies something is around for a very limited period of time. Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion: the hype surrounding Helio's service.
Exaggerated and extravagant claims made especially in their advertising and promotional material on their site: It is pure hype, a gigantic PR job.

Hype only goes so far. What they cannot provide is carrier-grade Class A switching (both circuit and packet mobile telephony) outside of their constraints of the host they cling on to. In this case, Sprint PCS.
Posted by zdnet_comment (6 comments )
Link Flag
funny is right
i also agree with funny for the people who are going to buy those services helio is an extreamly nice deal, except for the high prices of the equipment compared to the iphone and other technology of this magnitude i think its a great price even though i want one but i just cant seem to afford it =(
Posted by bhujwala (3 comments )
Link Flag
Funny
For users who enjoy things like this others see it as a waste of money. A recent user posted a comment about college tuition etc. etc. I agree in some cases that things like this are a waste of money but for someone like me who likes to keep in touch with family and friends $85 for 1000 minutes, Nights and Weekends, and Data is a deal. For example on Verizon: $59.99 = 900 minutes (100 minutes less), $15 for VCAST (video, unlimited mobile web), $20 for 2500 additional messages (most people won't be on Helio yet so IN doesn't matter, and more features that Verizon just can't touch. That's almost $100 and we haven't even included taxes yet. The same goes for sprint (you get the anytime minutes) but you will pay $20-25 for data, unlimited text for $15. Helio is a bargin for people that use these services and could save you between 10-20 dollars a month.

Dayton is very smart at the service price point, he just needs to come down on his equipment. The major players (Sprint, Verizon, etc) have alot to look at and it looks like we have a new major player in the wireless business.
Posted by liquidgroove (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
On Helio
People who think that this Helio service is a good thing rarely stay faithful to it forever. For they have found something interesting for the time being, and when the next thing comes around, they will then follow that. Their defection will lead the 'hype' to fail.

Using some examples, take Apple's iPod. The iPod is more than just hype, it is the next best thing to music (considering what currently existed).

Back to Helio, it is just 'hype' and offers very little to the consumer. the major carriers offer quality and consistency of delivery. Hype implies something is around for a very limited period of time. Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion: the hype surrounding Helio's service.
Exaggerated and extravagant claims made especially in their advertising and promotional material on their site: It is pure hype, a gigantic PR job.

Hype only goes so far. What they cannot provide is carrier-grade Class A switching (both circuit and packet mobile telephony) outside of their constraints of the host they cling on to. In this case, Sprint PCS.
Posted by zdnet_comment (6 comments )
Link Flag
funny is right
i also agree with funny for the people who are going to buy those services helio is an extreamly nice deal, except for the high prices of the equipment compared to the iphone and other technology of this magnitude i think its a great price even though i want one but i just cant seem to afford it =(
Posted by bhujwala (3 comments )
Link Flag
MySpace for you phone for free
A small startup VCEL (Virtual Communication Expression & Lifestyle) has unveiled a new social networking service for cell phones. All you need to do to keep in contact with your friends 24/7 is to create a profile with their website, download a Java application for your cell phone (more than 20 models are supported already), and send an invitation to your buddies. Here we go: you can exchange comments, pictures, plan on activities together, etc. You'd have the same control over your profile either from phone or from web browser. They have a nice Java applet for your page, so you can leave your buddies a voice message right from your computer and so on.
Posted by vcellvibes (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MySpace for you phone for free
A small startup VCEL (Virtual Communication Expression & Lifestyle) has unveiled a new social networking service for cell phones. All you need to do to keep in contact with your friends 24/7 is to create a profile with their website, download a Java application for your cell phone (more than 20 models are supported already), and send an invitation to your buddies. Here we go: you can exchange comments, pictures, plan on activities together, etc. You'd have the same control over your profile either from phone or from web browser. They have a nice Java applet for your page, so you can leave your buddies a voice message right from your computer and so on.
Posted by vcellvibes (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HELIO
I have had the HELIO service for exactly one month and 4 days. To date, they have managed to exploit my bank account for a total of $1,030.31 (this figure does not include the purchase of two phones). This all stemmed from their incompentent people at Customer Service accidentally disconnecting my account then expecting me to pay for their mistakes three times over. I am now just patiently waiting for their credits to hit my credit card so I can go shopping elsehwere.
Posted by bmchouston2003 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HELIO
I have had the HELIO service for exactly one month and 4 days. To date, they have managed to exploit my bank account for a total of $1,030.31 (this figure does not include the purchase of two phones). This all stemmed from their incompentent people at Customer Service accidentally disconnecting my account then expecting me to pay for their mistakes three times over. I am now just patiently waiting for their credits to hit my credit card so I can go shopping elsehwere.
Posted by bmchouston2003 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the fine print...
...it contains a reference to hidden charges that they can increase to whatever price they want! Sure it's targeted to the young and affluent...they don't usually read the fine print, and count on Mommy and Daddy to bail them out of their financial predicaments.

Thank my "higher power" that I learned long ago to read the fine print! Looks like a bait a switch scheme to me. I'm shocked that the CNET reviewer hasn't read the fine print either! Gee, think someone might own stock in Helio?!
Posted by hardknoxfirst (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the fine print...
...it contains a reference to hidden charges that they can increase to whatever price they want! Sure it's targeted to the young and affluent...they don't usually read the fine print, and count on Mommy and Daddy to bail them out of their financial predicaments.

Thank my "higher power" that I learned long ago to read the fine print! Looks like a bait a switch scheme to me. I'm shocked that the CNET reviewer hasn't read the fine print either! Gee, think someone might own stock in Helio?!
Posted by hardknoxfirst (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
best prices on Ocean
I got my new Helio Ocean and i love it. It truly is the sidekick killer. I got mine at www.mobijunkie.com
Posted by mobijunkie (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
best prices on Ocean
I got my new Helio Ocean and i love it. It truly is the sidekick killer. I got mine at www.mobijunkie.com
Posted by mobijunkie (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Techinal support lacking
Helio service is provide on a good network structure from sprint and whoever else they lease from but they seriously lack customer support. If you have a problem with your device you stuck going through the same steps over and over until the problem is fixed or you decide to cancle your service. I chose to cancle my service after 17 days with the greater portion of that spent dealing with a laundry list of software and hardware related issues. With approximately 2 hours(possibly a lot more but I want to be more than fair) spent going through their troubleshooting steps I was supprised to find it only took 3 minutes to cancle my service and deactivate it almost instantly one I hung up.
Posted by jdub49er (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Techinal support lacking
Helio service is provide on a good network structure from sprint and whoever else they lease from but they seriously lack customer support. If you have a problem with your device you stuck going through the same steps over and over until the problem is fixed or you decide to cancle your service. I chose to cancle my service after 17 days with the greater portion of that spent dealing with a laundry list of software and hardware related issues. With approximately 2 hours(possibly a lot more but I want to be more than fair) spent going through their troubleshooting steps I was supprised to find it only took 3 minutes to cancle my service and deactivate it almost instantly one I hung up.
Posted by jdub49er (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I picked up my Helio couple of weeks ago and I like the dual slide functionality a lot. This allows me to quickly call and text message without getting overwhelmed with the buttons. The 3g coverage is also great here in New York so that is important since I am a YouTube fanatic. The final area of Helio Ocean that is great is the pricing and given I was able to get my deposit waived through www.prepaidhelio.com it was a no brainer.
Posted by Pretty_Prue (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i just got a mysto phone and was wondering if anyone out there knew anything about them
Posted by mythought (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I jost got a helio mystro as a gift and was wanting to know if it would be a mistake to change services.
I use my phone for business and personel. I don't even go online at home very much. advice much appeciated.thanks
Posted by mythought (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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