Could Google Kill off Virgin and Helio?

helio.jpgIf Google is successful in its push for open cell phone networks, U.S. mobile virtual network operators could fall on hard times, an analyst said Monday according to Red Herring.

We’ve been reporting for a while that MVNOs like the mobile-media-focused Helio are struggling to become profitable. And it’s hard to ignore the fact that several of Helio’s competitors–including Disney Mobile, Amp’d, and Mobile ESPN–all went belly up in the past 18 months.

With open U.S. cell phone networks gaining ground, largely because of Google, that business is about to get tougher, the article said. The analyst said the current mobile resellers could be replaced by a new, hardier breed.

“When Google and others establish open networks, the focus will be on mass-market, inexpensive cell phones, and companies such as Helio and Apple, with its iPhone, that focus on high-end phones will be under pressure,” Besen Group President Alex Besen said.

Virgin Mobile looks like a stronger play to us, just because it offers low-priced, prepaid options that many folks like. Helio is a tougher sell; while it has some exclusive high-end handsets and media options, there’s not a lot on Helio feature-wise that you can’t get from other carriers and phones these days.

Will Google Kill Mobile Resellers Helio, Virgin? [Red Herring]