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Would you watch ads to talk for free?

Would you watch ads to talk for free?

As the UAE prepares to welcome more telecom operators, we wonder if an ad-funded mobile service could take-off here.

August 10, 2009 12:25 by

Virtual mobile network Blyk recently announced that it would be closing operations in the UK by August this year. The Finland-based operator entered the UK market in 2007, offering free calls and messaging to consumers who were willing to receive targeted advertising on their mobile phones. Users received up to six messages per day, for which they were given 43 minutes of free voice calls and 217 free text messages every month.

After targeting a young audience, Blyk managed to attract 200,000 subscribers in about a year, and in November 2008 announced that it had secured a $50 million investment from venture capitalists.

However Blyk, which owns no network infrastructure of its own and rents capacity on other networks, could not maintain its business model in the UK.

According to an article in Advertising Age, the problem with Blyk was its narrow scale of operations. “The intention and the premise were good, but Blyk’s problem was its reach and the narrow proposition,” Mark Angell, business development director at Marvellous Mobile, part of the Isobar network, told the magazine. “It makes more sense as one part of a broader offering than as a standalone business.”

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