RealTime IT News

Helio Drops Ocean onto the Marketplace

Helio, the Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) for the young and hip, has just released its newest flagship phone, the Ocean, onto the market. The 3G (EV-DO) handset features a unique dual-slider design that combines both a numeric keypad and a separate full QWERTY thumb-keyboard to make tasks such as sending instant messages or e-mail easier.

The phone goes for $295 directly from Helio on its Web site and few store locations. The MVNO  plans to extend Ocean’s availability to third-party outlets later this month.

Ocean offers full over-the-air music downloads, video-on-demand, a 2.4-inch, 260K color high-resolution QVGA display, a 2 megapixel high-resolution camera, a microSD slot, 200MB of internal storage, an HTML browser, MySpace on Helio, GPS-enabled Google Maps for mobile, Buddy Beacon and other features. The PlaysForSure-compatible handset promises an excellent 15 hours of music-listening on a single charge.

Its integrated messaging dashboard includes access to multiple public e-mail services and also incorporates Instant Message access through Yahoo Messenger, AOL's AIM Service and Windows Live Messenger.

Ocean measures only 21.8 millimeters thick, impressive for a dual-slider. And it weighs a mere 3.17 ounces.

Launched last spring, Helio, a joint venture between Earthlink and South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom, is named after Copernicus's Heliocentric theory of the Sun as center of the universe. As a brand, it is supposed to conjure how central mobility - the mobile phone in particular - is in young people's lives.

Helio targets tech-savvy 18 to 34 year olds through its partnership with the mega-social-networking site MySpace. It currently has fewer than 100,000 subscribers—a drop in the bucket compared to mobile operators like AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint, all of which sport tens of millions of customers. It recently experimented with offering wireless broadband service (also EV-DO) for laptops called Helio Hybrid, but dropped it last week.

Unlike these and other traditional carriers, Helio - as an MVNO - doesn't own a physical cellular network. Rather, it rents and resells spectrum from these 'real' wireless operators as its own voice and data services.

Story courtesy of SmartPhoneToday.