Helio’s demise does not come as a shock, but that price! Engadget says it best:
We know Helio was burning cash like crazy, but that doesn’t entirely explain why SK Telecom was so absurdly desperate to dump their $500m investment. At a $39m acquisition price, SK didn’t just lose its shirt — it lost that, the shoes, and then the pants. You know, the pants with a half-billion dollars in them.
The MVNO model seems to be a great idea. Mobile phone users should not care who owns the towers and runs the network. They should care about the phones, the software and the customer service. It makes sense. Let the network details be a B2B transaction. I really don’t care who my ISP is as long as my Internet service can keep up with my daily Hot Chicks with Douchebags addiction.
I’m not a marketer, and I don’t know what it will take for the MVNO’s to convince consumers that retail mobile phone service from someone other than the telco is better. I don’t even know that consumers understand that Virgin Mobile is really just a marketing and customer service organization. When looking for mobile phone service, I suspect that most people look for the biggest (aka most reliable) provider. After all, we all hate dropped calls. If any provider can make the MVNO model work, it’s the original one, Virgin Mobile. Few are better at branding and providing an experience that people want than Richard Branson and Company.
I wish Apple would get into the MVNO game. It has already taken the carrier out of the software and phone business. Now, all we need is for Apple to start selling the phone service. A world where I could deal with Apple’s user experience and customer service instead of AT&T’s is a world I would gladly pay a little extra to live in. Who knows, AT&T might get better. It had the sense to get the heck out of San Antonio.