Things not as Blyk and white as they seem

by Ricky Chotai on 19th May 2009

A brief bit of background for you about me and Blyk: I have been a member since it started its operations here in the UK in September 2007. I closely watched and analysed Blyk for a year on Mobile Industry Review where I reported on a weekly basis on the sort of brand messages I was receiving.

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Blyk:Shutting down? No.

Last week Newagemedia ‘broke’ the news that:

Ad-funded MVNO Blyk plans to axe its consumer offering, which launched amid a flurry of publicity in September 2007.

Blyk, which currently rents network capacity from Orange in the UK, is preparing to close down its direct-to-consumer business to focus on operator partnerships.

The article caused a massive amount of reaction in the blogosphere, however the article is incorrect and Blyk will not be closing its MVNO operations here in the UK (yet) – Jonathan McDonald’s post (Jon was Sales Director at Blyk until May 2008) gives the details as does a piece at Mobile Marketing magazine.

However, I’m not sure I fully agree with Blyk’s statement – the key point being the point ‘The MVNO model acts as proof of concept’ – the company has never stated this at all until last week. So why are they now telling us now that the model was only a proof of concept? What about all the other European MVNOs they planned on launching? Some cynical bloggers have posted their thoughts, however I think it is more a change in strategy. Blyk is clearly shifting from the MVNO model to that of operator partnerships which I think has a much higher chance of being successful.

Why?

Ever since Blyk launched I have said one thing, that for the model to be a success an existing operator needs to create an advertising plan on post and pre pay.  For Blyk this was their only source of revenue and in times like the current recession they are hit hard. If one of the existing operators incorporated ad-funded plans into their portfolio then this is not their only source of income.

Many people would argue that the Blyk model is niche; it really is not if you offer something that your customers really want. The Blyk model has a real opportunity to be a success, if implemented correctly. I really hope one of the big 5 MNO realise just how valuable the Blyk model really is, I am in Blyk’s target market and a user of their service now if T-Mobile (my current operator) offered me the option to have £10 off my price plan because I agree to receive adverts I would be banging on their door to give them my custom.

The future for the UK members?

Blyk is clearly looking to exit the MVNO market, and they need to, to be honest. They know what they are doing in relation to advertising and engagement; however running a mobile network they have not got a clue. I think if one the leading UK operators will partner with Blyk we will see the members be shifted over.

I hope this is not the death of mobile advertising, and with Blyk concentrating on helping the operators to use their technology I think we may be seeing things big changes in the mobile advertising in the future.

Editor’s note: If you’re interested in mobile advertising, why not join us at Mobile Advertising UK, where The Really Mobile Project readers can get a £100 discount on tickets or follow the coverage of the event here.

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