Helio Targets Young Users With MySpace Deal, New Handsets

Mobile brand Helio on Thursday announced plans to target the lucrative U.S. youth market with two South Korean-made cell phones and a content deal with popular social networking site MySpace.

Helio’s Hero and Kickflip multimedia handsets are set to debut this spring.

“Helio is for those of us who want a badge of personality, not a phone; a mobile lifestyle, not a utility,” said Sky Dayton, CEO for Helio, a joint venture of EarthLink and SK Telecom, one of South Korea’s largest mobile communications carriers.

Helio’s Space

Helio’s services suite is anchored by a partnership with MySpace wherein Helio will customize the MySpace Mobile experience in an effort to tap into the online social network’s 55 million-plus user base. Helio is offering customers anytime, anywhere access to the popular social networking site.

The service includes wireless access to MySpace standbys like e-mail, bulletins, profiles, blogs and photo galleries. Users can also post photos directly from a Helio device and see if their friends are online.

“MySpace Mobile On Helio will allow our members to share their lives as they happen and evolve the MySpace experience from being about what you did last night to about what you are doing right now,” said Rob Gelick, head of media and community services at Helio.

Mobile Benefits

The opportunity to exploit one of the strongest online communities is a boon for Helio, said Instat Principal Analyst David Chamberlain, especially considering the growing list of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) rushing to carve out their niches.

“When you launch a brand, you need brand recognition. When you can tailor to this kind of a niche, that reduces the cost of your branding and marketing issues and brings you right into your target audience,” Chamberlain told TechNewsWorld.

Helio is also addressing a common problem in the smartphone world: user disappointment with camera phones. Instat research shows that 60 percent of camera phone users planned to send picture messages when they purchased their device, but only 28 percent are actually doing so.

“People want to send picture messages, but they are generally so disappointed with them that they don’t. The other issue is, who do you send the pictures to? The MySpace deal can push the use of services like picture messaging, which are under utilized at this point and can be fairly profitable,” Chamberlain noted.

Meet the Handsets

The first two Helio devices, based on popular high-end handsets from Korea, are the jet-black Hero, produced by Pantech, and the pearlescent Kickflip, produced by VK Mobile.

The Hero features a 2.2-inch, 262K-color high-resolution LCD display, audio capabilities with full duplex stereo speakers, removable memory, and a 2.0 megapixel camera with digital zoom and flash for capturing pictures and video. The Kickflip packs similar features in a sleek body with a swivelopening that flips to the right or left.

“The true power of wireless is about communication, about connecting us to our friends when we’re out living life,” said Helio’s Dayton. “This is also a signal of Helio’s unique approach in the industry. Instead of simply cutting and pasting the traditional monolithic content distribution model into the ‘third screen,’ we see the mobile device as the hub of your world, and content itself not just as something to be consumed, but as particles of communication to be discovered and shared.”

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