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If we had a "where did these guys come from?" category, Helio would be in it. The Mobile Virtual Network Operator backed by Earthlink and SK Telecom in Korea is a relative newcomer that appears to bring the Korean phone look-and-feel here to the U.S. while licensing cellular spectrum from other companies. Sound like a good business plan? Something must be working because Helio is in the news quite a bit lately:
- GigaOm reports that Helio will have 100k subscribers by the end of this quarter; an increase from 70k subscribers at the end of last year.
- Helio is launching a music service today; tracks will run $1.99 each, direct to the phone. PhoneScoop indicates that Helio will allow for PC support at $.99 a track in the spring.
- We mentioned the new Google Maps for Windows Mobile last week and there was much rejoicing. Only one non-Windows Mobile phone currently offers the integrated GPS support: you guessed it. The Helio Drift, which has also has Bluetooth and EV-DO support.
Some MVNO’s have been a relative failure (ESPN and Disney Mobile come to mind), but Helio might be on to something with the Korean-infuenced handset approach combined with licensing cellular spectrum.