March 27, 2007 4:45 PM PDT

Ocean smart phone could broaden Helio's appeal

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ORLANDO, Fla.--Helio, the mobile operator for ultra-cool hipsters, will likely broaden its appeal to more mainstream customers with its latest phone, called the Ocean.

The Ocean, unveiled here at the CTIA Wireless trade show on Monday, is the world's first dual-slider phone that slides vertically to reveal a numeric keypad and slides horizontally for a full QWERTY keypad.

Four new phones

The device merges text and picture messaging, and Internet e-mailing from all major portals with corporate e-mail synchronization that allows users to get e-mail from Microsoft Exchange servers. The phone also provides over-the-air music downloads, video on demand, a high-resolution camera, an HTML browser, MySpace access, GPS-enabled Google Maps, and buddy tracking.

"The BlackBerry is very focused on corporate users," said Sky Dayton, CEO of Helio. "But something like the Sidekick doesn't have access to corporate e-mail. Young consumers are growing up. And they want corporate e-mail too."

While the case could be made that even hipsters have jobs, it's more likely that the new Ocean phone will appeal to a broader audience of subscribers. Handset makers, such as Samsung with the Blackjack, Motorola with the Q, and Research in Motion with the BlackBerry Pearl, have each introduced smart phones in the past year that are geared to what are called "prosumers."

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CTIA revs up for wireless
One of the largest trade shows in the industry, CTIA Wireless 2007 showcases the latest products, strategies and developments in mobile technology.

These are not typical corporate users who may use one device for corporate e-mail and messaging, and another cell phone for personal use. "Prosumers" are those who buy their phone directly and use it as their personal phone, as well as for accepting work calls and e-mail. For these customers, they want the functionality of a corporate messaging device like a BlackBerry, but they want the style and comfort of a phone that fits neatly in their pocket. And they want access to both corporate e-mail and Internet-based e-mail from companies like Yahoo, MSN or Google.

While Dayton emphasized that Helio is not changing its focus from providing services and devices to the ultra-hip, he admits that the Ocean may have a wider appeal than the company's earlier phones, the Heat and the Drift, which are also packed full of multimedia capabilities, sans the QWERTY keyboard.

"I definitely think you will see us broaden our appeal in the future," Dayton said. "But to be honest, you'd be surprised at the age of some of the customers that we have now."

The price of the new device is about $295 with a two-year contract. Helio also offers "all-in" plans that include unlimited data services and text messaging for a set price, with no hidden costs for new services. Prices start at $65 per month for 500 minutes of talk time and go up to $135 for 2,500 minutes of talk time. The new Ocean phone is not yet available; it will go on sale later this spring.

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4 comments

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Sorry, waiting for the iPhone
not interested.
Posted by CentrOS (126 comments )
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Looking forward to it.
I've been waiting for smaller multi-messaging device for some time now. This looks pretty good to me for now... I'm also waiting for iPhone to come out but I would probably wait it out to see if it's stable enough and what the people say about it because the cost is pretty up there and I don't know if I'm okay with the price tag for something that's still unproven and unknown. It's exciting but I would probably wait and see how this "Ocean" device works out.

The messaging part and the internet part is definitely intriguing and the price is perhaps reasonable for a phone with such features in comparison with other phones with similar features. I'm just gonna wait a couple of months to see how stable it is and get it then.
Posted by padosori99 (1 comment )
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Not another one
What kind of crap is that?

He waits 2 yrs to market it and meanwhile dishes out crap that people have a hard time using ?

First you got the Kickflip that 2 months later turned to junk with mass cancellations because the thing wouldnt work like resetting itself and then the manufacturer declares bankruptcy

Then the Hybrid that didnt last too long
That was scrapped

Then you got the Drift where a lot of angry members couldnt even get the dang thing to stay on because of poor battery life

And then you pull the most spectacular move
Dumping the Hero which was your best working phone off the market.
Making new sales plunge like the New York Stock Exchange crash

So how are they going to prove that the Ocean is going to become a success rather than another failure?

You'd think that the Ocean would be on the market first
It surely doesnt take 2 yrs to make a phone when you got 400 million in the bank to work with

The lies and corruption that some corporates make is phenomenal in this business

Neither of your phones made the Cnet list aye Sky?
Gonna try again and see if you sell a million this year?

Take a look at why?
Posted by computerpersonlv (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Leaving iPhone in the dust
Yeah, what's this thing got that the iPhone doesn't? Um... aside from 3G (broadband-like download speeds), GPS (including Google Maps and buddy search), 2 megapixel camera that does VIDEO, a MySpace app, free streaming video content, over-the-air purchasing of music and playing of MP3, unprotected AAC *and* WMA music files, compatibility with Microsoft Exchange Servers, and actual usable keyboards (as opposed to "virtual keyboards"). For a LOT less money.
Posted by mistergoodman (20 comments )
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