Helio Phones Enter on MySpace Connection

By Nicholas Carlson

Video, music, photography and third-generation connection speeds are quickly becoming the bare-minimum feature set for cell phones. But a MySpace connection?

Helio, a new cell phone venture, is hoping a partnership with News Corp.’s mega-popular MySpace social-networking site will convince tech-savvy 18- to 34-year-olds to buy its Hero and Kickflip phones.

Analysts, however, warn that the partnership needs to go beyond the perceived lure of a MySpace connection in order to be successful.

MySpace has more than 43 million members and showed 752 percent year-over-year growth as of November, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Helio Hero
Helio’s Hero
Source: Helio

Helio spokesperson Julie Cordua told internetnews.com that the MySpace Mobile on Helio partnership is a perfect fit for Helio and the consumer interested in staying connected with their friends.

With the Hero and the Kickflip, “MySpace is less about what happened last night and more about what’s happening now.”

The phones feature a 2.2-inch, 262K-color high-resolution QVGA LCD display, full duplex stereo speakers, removable memory, and a 2-megapixel camera with zoom and Flash.

Helio said the MySpace connection will optimize the look, feel and overall social-networking experience for mobile use. Users will be able to access all of MySpace’s bulletins, blogs, mailboxes, photos and profiles.

Another feature, according to Helio, is that with your Kickflip and Hero handy, you can take a picture of your location and post it to your MySpace profile as another way to invite your friends to join you.

Aside from the MySpace capabilities, the phones will provide 3G connections to games, music and video.

Forrester Research analyst Peter Kim understands the enthusiasm. “MySpace is the social networking site,” he told internetnews.com. Kim said the deal “benefits Helio a lot,” mostly because it is such a good marketing move.

As of June 2005, 8 percent of all Internet ads appeared on MySpace. Users will probably see more than a few banners touting the Hero and the Kickflip in the months to come.

He cautioned, however, that the partnership needs to be about more than just marketing to be successful. He said the 18- to 34-year-old market won’t readily switch if the devices don’t promise real integration with MySpace.

The Hero and the Kickflip need to “offer a better experience,” he said, not just “MySpace lite.”

Cordua is not concerned.

“Helio is the only mobile company that is optimizing the MySpace experience on a mobile phone,” she said. “We’ve customized the Web site and made it actually usable on a mobile phone. It is not MySpace lite. It is MySpace enhanced, completely customized for the mobile experience.”

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