from the first-impressions? dept
First, while it's still talking about the MySpace connection, it appears that the integration is being played down a bit. This may make a lot of sense, as the MySpace generation seems to be more targeted at teens, and Helio claims to be going after a slightly (just slightly) older demographic. The issue that's going to raise the most questions is the pricing -- which looks high when starting at $85/month. Helio accurately points out that you get a lot included for that price (perhaps more than a comparable plan from other providers), but even those who understand that fact may still balk at seeing a price that looks so high compared to other mobile operators. It's going to take quite a marketing job to convince people the fees are worth it -- especially with a brand name no one is familiar with. Some of the pitch from Helio appears to be that the pricing plans are simple and there are no tricks involved -- but potential subscribers will still need to be sold on that (and, if it's not true, they're going to be even angrier). Many mobile subscribers aren't happy with the eventual bills they get... but it's not clear if it's such a big pain point that people will immediately jump to another provider who's just as expensive -- but more upfront about it.
Also, for all the hype about bringing the cool South Korean mobile services to the US, the initial offerings are fairly mundane. There's a Helio on Top service that will update various feeds of info on your screen. These kinds of push services make a lot of sense in the mobile space, but by kicking it off with just a few preset partners, it's fairly limiting. This is a perfect spot for Helio to just put RSS in place -- opening up a ton of interesting possibilities. Someone at Helio claims that the next version will support RSS -- so they're clearly moving in that direction, though it's not clear why they didn't launch with it working (that would have generated additional interest in some of the circles they're clearly targeting). The other idea that's going to get a lot of attention is the "gifting" and "begging" features that will let people send content to others or ask others for content they've bought. It's a nice feature in theory -- but it's not clear how compelling it really will be. It still seems like Helio has a lot of promise, but the initial launch still seems a bit short on the immediate "wow" factor many were hoping to see. Hopefully, that will change over time.