Down But Maybe Not Out

Amp’d mobile in June became the latest high-profile mobile media venture to stumble since the demise of Mobile ESPN last August. The wireless startup filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing over $100 million in debt to a variety of creditors including Verizon and Motorola.

The company had raised more than $300 million in the last two years, promising an unprecedented package of mobile entertainment in a sleek handset aimed at tech-savvy young consumers. But as with Mobile ESPN, selling premium content at premium prices has proven a tough business for Amp’d.

Cell-phone users in the United States have shown little enthusiasm for mobile applications much beyond text-messaging and ringtones. In pouring huge sums into Amp’d, backers seemed to ignore the cheap Web 2.0 mode of company-building that’s guided the most successful startups such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.

Now, all eyes are likely to be on Helio, a heavily financed competitor to Amp’d that’s also struggled to sign up customers despite a lavish marketing effort.

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