I read an article in Wired Magazine a few days ago on Sky Dayton, the founder of Earthlink and Boingo, and his new venture, Helio:
Sky Dayton Gets Mobile
It really triggered one of those "Wow. I wish I was involved." emotional moments somewhere deep down inside. Their vision is right on. If they're able to execute, I'm truly excited about what they'll be bringing to US consumers (and personally, I wouldn't be able to resist a phone codenamed after YT - hehe).
There are a handful of large companies and small startups alike going after the vision of mobile social location-aware software. So why am I so excited about Helio specifically? They're going after the whole technology stack: device (oem rebranding), data service (mvno), and user apps (gifting/begging, etc) - and they're forging some really cool partnerships (i.e. myspace) along the way.
Going after the whole stack gives Helio the power to avoid some of the biggest challenges in providing next-gen mobile apps: incompatible device hardware, incompatible operating systems, various barriers to deployment of mobile software applications, carrier control over content distribution, location information, and other valuable information, etc (the list really does go on and on here, and any one of these can easily become a showstopper).
Partnering with Myspace not only gives Helio a market 'in', but also solves the challenge of building up network effects from scratch.
Anyhow, as a geek with a huge passion for mobile social location-aware software, I'm completely bought in to the Helio vision, and I'm intrigued/impressed by the mvno strategy. As Trump says, "Go Big or Go Home". Must be cool to be a startup with hundreds of millions of dollars in backing. :-)
(Here's some more recent coverage of Helio with cool pictures/details...)