Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The viability of Helio

Steve blogged about the launch of a new mobile phone service called Helio, made for MySpace and Facebook. The idea is that you can now blog and take your account with you on your mobile phone. I get it, however I can only come up with a few reasons why it might succeed. Feel free to comment with your reasons either way.

1. Volume. A lot of Facebook users have MySpace accounts and vice versa, so it would be wrong to add the members from both and say "X million". MySpace's wiki says 75 million accounts, so let's go with that overall number. 6% penetration is 4.5 million subscribers. Not bad for a startup in year one.

2. "All of my friends are doing it". Getting influencers on board with this service is key. I don't know who represents Helio, but my suggestion is to give the service away to the influencers on MySpace and Facebook. Who's active, networked and the person in the group that influencers others decisions? That's who I want to have this phone.

I love to play devil's advocate. So here's the list of risks/cons:

1. Cost. The starter "All in" package is 1000 minutes for $85 a month. That's not exactly on the low end of the scale (see: T-Mobile). We've all been in high school or college. How easy is it to come up with an extra $35 a month? How many parties, shopping trips, etc does this now eliminate?

2. Decision maker. I understand that kids can go into Best Buy or the local cell phone shop and pick up a pay-as-you-go phone. But this isn't pay as you go. This is a contract, requiring an adult to sign up. Are Mom & Dad going to shell out $85 a month for you to spend more time online? Family plans are what Mom and Dad are buying, so convincing them to pay for a separate service and cell phone carrier is quite a chore.

3. Changing behavior ain't easy. Myspace and Facebook are for when I'm at home, work or in my dorm or apartment and can't be with my friends. Otherwise, when I'm not in class, doing homework, playing sports, etc, I'm with my friends. Where does Helio fit into this equation?

4. Predators, stalkers, etc can now bug me 24/7. No explanation needed.

Feel free to add your pros and cons here as well.

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