Helio, the youth-focused MVNO jointly owned by ISP Earthlink and South Korean telecom giant SK Telecom announced plans to open several retail stores in major U.S. markets before the year is over. The first store will be conveniently located next to the company's LA headquarters in nearby Santa Monica. In case you aren't familiar with the MVNO, Helio's value proposition is all about services on top of traditional talk time minutes. Their focus is on promoting the service's game, music and video offerings instead of just minutes. Although MVNOs like Mobile ESPN and Disney Mobile have received a lot of ink over the past six months, the reality is that most have gained little traction in the marketplace. According to our latest research the major carriers which include Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile have about a 90% share of the youth and college market. Only Boost Mobile, with a 3% share and Virgin Mobile with a 2% share, show up in our latest results. Helio hopes their retail stores will be somewhat comparable to Starbucks where potential young customers will come in and hang out in addition to shopping for service. The Helio store employees will encourage visitors to not only check out the Helio phones but also play video games and go online. Will it work? My initial reaction is no, however SK Telecom, one of the backers of Helio, has some serious capital behind it and as long as they remain committed to the venture who knows what could happen a couple of years down the road.