Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Helio Launched - Korean Retail Angle

I try not to post about things that are broad news where I don't really have anything to add. Yesterday Helio launched. I am interested to see what their Myspace integration is like. As of this morning I haven't seen any reviews. I guess in the next day or two things might start to appear. I was dying to get my hands on a phone yesterday and since they are actually going to do some retail distribution I went to their site to find a store near me. Although my expectations were that in fact there are no stores, I was surprised to see a number near me. They happened to be in an area that is very Korean in terms of businesses and residents. There were three stores. I called them all. None of the people answered the phone in English. They did in fact speak English when prompted and after a couple of questions I realized that they didn't have the phones yet but should have them in the next several weeks. More important to my quest though was that these phones that they would be carrying would be with a Korean language version so no dice for me.

I think the biggest issue that I saw with their launch was the price point. When I originally heard about Helio I expected that they were targeting a more affluent post college kind of crowd which would be able to handle a relatively expensive price plan and handset purchase cost. I think their rollout suggests that this is still the case. With that in mind it seems sort of counter intuitive to me that they are marketing to the Myspace crowd which strikes me as a younger more price sensitive group. I am certain that similar to the other recently launched MVNOs there will be several course corrections over time. All in all though I am really excited about what they are trying to do in the MVNO space and I hope they gets traction quickly.

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