Helio Ocean 2 Coming As Soon As Next Month (VM)

Helio, the “virtual” wireless carrier purchased by Virgin Mobile USA (VM) last year, plans to start selling the second edition of its flagship “Ocean” mobile phone sometime this quarter, a company rep tells us. The phone could go on sale as soon as next month.

(According to Web reports, this is what it looks like — photo from FCC documents. We’ve asked Virgin to confirm that this is the phone.)

The question: Will Ocean 2 be able to compete with smartphones like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, Google (GOOG) Android-powered phones like the T-Mobile G1, RIM (RIMM) BlackBerry gadgets, or Palm’s (PALM) forthcoming Pre?

When Helio launched the first Ocean in 2007, the iPhone wasn’t even on sale yet — Ocean was mostly competing with the T-Mobile Sidekick. But now you can get an iPhone for $200, including a Web browser and software platform that Helio probably can’t match.

That might not matter if Helio were a cheap service. But until now, at least, Helio has tried to go after the same big spenders as the iPhone, with monthly service starting at $65 per month, going up to $99 per month. (Virgin Mobile re-sells access to Sprint Nextel’s (S) network.)

And we can’t imagine Helio trying to charge less than $100 for the Ocean 2 — the almost two-year-old Ocean is still going for $80.

See Also:
Helio: How To Lose Half A Billion Dollars In Three Years
Memo To RIM, Windows Mobile: Palm Just Kicked Your Butt
Apple Loses Multi-Touch Exclusive To Palm

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