Amp’d To Live Another Week. Also: What’s TechCrunch Smoking?


Customers of bankrupt “virtual” mobile carrier Amp’d Mobile scored another week to find a new wireless provider. Amp’d has updated its Web site and now says service may shut down July 31 — not today, as it had previously posted (via MocoNews). Also of note, ousted Amp’d founder Peter Adderton may be landing at mobile phone chipmaker Qualcomm, which appears to be moving deeper into mobile content and entertainment, Valleywag reports.


TechCrunch picked up the Amp’d story yesterday — and used the opportunity to jubilantly report that favoured competitor Helio “surges” as Amp’d dies. But as we noted yesterday, fledgling Helio has, at best, half the number of subscribers as the all-but-dead Amp’d. The “surging” Helio, moreover, which resells service on Sprint’s network, is projected to lose $300 million this year. Its two lead investors, EarthLink and SK Telecom, may each have to toss in another $100 million more to fund the venture, and EarthLink’s new CEO Rolla Huff told me last month that he’s “not ruling in or ruling out” any of the company’s current investments.

Yes, Amp’d had unique problems, including an overabundance of customers who don’t pay their bills. And as TechCrunch notes, Helio has finally attracted 100,000 subscribers, who pay, on average, a sweet $90-$100 per month on mobile phone service. But its marketing costs are massive, and it’s far from clear if Helio can make a buck in a tight wireless industry dominated by four companies whose customers are tied up with long contracts and family plans. EarthLink may shed more light Thursday when it reports its Q2 results.