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Helio going belly up, headed Virgin’s way?

We know that Virgin Mobile and Helio have been talking merger for a while. Nothing much has come of this since the initial rumors, but now we might see things start to move. Word is that Helio is shutting down many of its stores and kiosks nationwide. According to Engadget, this merger, in which little actual merging will take place, seems inevitable at this point.

Looking at the field of remaining MVNOs, it seems that the early adopters are at a distinct advantage. Tracfone (and Net10), Virgin, and Page Plus are among the few still standing. You could call Boost Mobile an MVNO, since that’s how they started out. But who knows if they’d still be alive if Nextel hadn’t purchased them.

Some will say that there is a future for MVNOs in America. The market isn’t ripe yet, they say, but the day will soon come. I’m not exactly doubting them. But that’s little consolation to the MVNOs that have already bitten the dust, and even less consolation to a company like SK Telecom, who put hundreds of million of dollars into what appears to be a failed venture.