Helio Gets a Little Help from MySpace

Helio on Tuesday launched a U.S. mobile service aimed at young consumers who want to surf the Web with their cell phones. Users can send content, photos and video messages to friends. Dynamic news feeds are incorporated to keep them connected.

“Helio is custom-built for the lifestyle of young people who have their mobile device at the center of their universe,” said Helio CEO Sky Dayton. “Mobile devices are with us all the time, and they shouldn’t be limited to making calls, sending text messages and downloading content.”

MySpace on Helio

At the core of the youth mobile marketing campaign is the popular Web destination MySpace. MySpace on Helio is a mobile service designed specifically for users of the social networking site. It allows them to post photos directly from their Helio device to their MySpace page as part of a bulletin, message, comment or personal picture collection.

The mobile service offers a look, feel and overall experience true to the online MySpace environment while optimizing it for mobile use. It lets users read and write MySpace mail, post and reply to bulletins, read and write blogs, view profiles and add new friends as users meet them.

“The MySpace audience is the right demographic for Helio to target with its handsets, and its content is very desirable for that audience,” In-Stat Principal Analyst David Chamberlain told TechNewsWorld. “Some kids are pretty obsessed with keeping their MySpace up to date. This will let them take a picture from their phone and send it to their pages.”

Content Is King

Helio is further exploiting the demographic with live feeds that includecelebrity news, sports scores and real-time weather. Gamers may also be attracted to Helio as well, with its library of 2D, 3D and multiplayer games, plus access to independent game ratings, reviews, “cheat codes” and animated previews of in-game footage.

Tapping into the file-sharing phenomenon, Helio also sets out to make it easier for members to share purchased mobile content among friends with “gifting and begging features.”

Gifting refers to the ability to purchase a music video, game or piece of personalization content directly from a Helio member’s handset and have it delivered, over the air, to another Helio member’s device. Begging is just the opposite. Users can “beg” another Helio member to purchase content for them, and a friend can respond by purchasing and having it delivered directly to the handset of the person who requested it.

A Pricey Plan

Helio subscriptions start at US$85 a month for 1,000 minutes. In contrast, competitor T-Mobile charges $39.99 per month for 1,000 minutes. Helio is renting network space from Sprint for its services; Sprint charges $59.99 for 1,000 minutes.

Helio’s fee could be a bit hefty for the market it is targeting, but the company is touting its freebies and low-cost content. The service doesn’t “nickel-and-dime members to death,” the company said.

Helio members receive extra photo storage on MySpace. Unlimited access to MySpace on Helio is included in Helio’s All-In Memberships. All Helio games are priced at a flat $5.99 to buy, or members can opt to try out games by renting them for a week for only 99 cents each. At launch, all video streaming is included and music videos can be downloaded for $2.49 each.

A member can also choose the a la carte plan which includes 500 anytime minutes for $40/month and pay-as-you-use multimedia services.

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