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More Freebies Please: Ad-Funded MVNO Blyk Eyes India Launch

logo-blykThe more, the merrier, I say. If advertising supported MVNOs Blyk want a piece of the India telecom pie, bring them on. Never mind the advertisements, this market can absorb all the freebies that can be dished out, and then some more. Never mind the viability, if it doesn’t work, someone will always buy the “growth potential” pitch.

Mint reports, citing sources, that Blyk, which only allows subscribers in the 16-24 age group to join, is in talks with telcos in India, and possibly – Reliance Communications – for a partnership; a Blyk spokesperson confirmed plans to launch in India, but did not specify the timing.

Blyk is an MVNO, present in both the UK (around 200,000 members) and the Netherlands., which offers its young subscribers free talktime for for receiving targeted news and advertising offers from brands.

How Blyk Works

Members get credit of GBP 15 (around Rs. 1129) every month. These can be used for calls, SMS, MMS or browsing. According to the companys website, users never get more than 6 brand messages a day, in the form of tex messages, MMS and tags. Videos of some ads here. They also gather audience insight. Some details on advertising usage here; advertisers include MTV, Brylcreem, recruitment businesses, sports brands etc. Blyk also offers users double the top-up for the amount that they pay for it. For example: users receive a top-up of GBP 10 for every GBP 5 of top-up.

According to an annual report filed by Blyk’s marketing partner Velti Plc, its subscribers allow themselves to be profiled based on their lifestyle and personal interests. Velti has a partnership with HT Media, whose publication Mint reported Blyks India plans. The Velti-HT JV is expected to launch campaigns in India shortly.

MVNO Model For India?

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Blyk had raised EUR 40 million in November last year, from investors including Goldman Sachs, Industrial and Financial Investments Company (IFIC), Sofinnova Partners and a number of private investors. According to FT, they were looking at partnering with operators or local media companies, and not an MVNO model. Remember that Virgin Mobile has a “franchisee arrangement” with Tata Teleservices in India, and is believed to have well over a million subscribers. On is still awaiting detailed guidelines on MVNOs from the Department of Telecom.

In our opinion, a competing model in India would involve a cross operator marketing partnership that offers subscribers similar services. At the same time, given that the do-not-call registry has been so poorly implemented, and mobile marketing (including telecalling and SMS spam) is something of an epidemic in India, we wonder if advertisers will be interested in paying extra for an opt-in database. In that context, what happened to NEA-Indo US Ventures and DFJ funded M-Ginger?

Related:
DoT Gives Go Ahead To MVNOs In India; Who Has The Spectrum?

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