Editors' note: Helio has since been bought by Virgin Mobile, but the Helio Music store is still going strong under new management.
When Helio launched its "Don't call it a phone" campaign, it was trying to send a message that its devices were much more than just cell phones. With the ability to stream videos, navigate your route via GPS, play games, and surf the Web, it does seem like Helio is positing its handhelds as convergence multimedia devices for the young and trendy. With the introduction of the Helio Music store, it appears to be closing in on that trend. Following the lead of Verizon's V Cast Music and the Sprint Music Store. Helio Music is understandably small potatoes with a much smaller demographic. Still, we think it's worth a more in-depth look to see what the little guys are doing in the music download space.
Similar to its bigwig competitors, Helio Music is offering songs for PC download for 99 cents, which you can then sideload to your phone via a USB cable. You can also choose to download a song over-the-air for $1.99 and have a copy of it ready to download to your home PC. The pricing is incredibly competitive, and is on par with the pricing on Verizon's V Cast Music store. It is, however, not nearly as affordable as Sprint's recent initiative to offer 99 cents per song across the board. Also, Helio Music is currently only available on two phones--the Helio Drift and the Helio Heat. That said, Helio has mentioned that all future Helio phones will have built-in support for Helio Music.
Accessing the Helio Music store via the cell phone couldn't be simpler. You can either dial MUSIC (68742) and hit the Jump option on the phone's menu screen, or you can scroll to the Video and Music menu and select "Download music." You'll then be brought to the front page of the Helio Music store, which is divided into four sections: Featured Music, Top Music, New Releases, and Genre. There's also a Search function right at the top of the page, which you can use to quickly and easily search for a desired tune. Once a song is selected, you can preview it, purchase it directly over the air, "Gift" it by giving the song to a friend in your network, or "Beg" for it from a friend who has some cash to spare.