23 Jul 2009
Mobile start-up Blyk, which pioneered a business model in the UK offering free calls and SMS in exchange for users viewing and responding to advertisements sent to their mobiles, has been forced to admit it cannot operate alone as an MVNO, and in order to expand its international operations, has signed a partnership deal with Vodafone’s Dutch operation. The Financial Times reports that Blyk, which ran its MVNO service by buying wholesale minutes from Orange and targeting the 16- to 24-year-old market, had attracted 200,000 users by 31 December 2008. However, after announcing it had raised USD51 million for its international expansion last November, in February this year the company announced it was switching away from an MVNO model and opting instead to work in partnership with existing mobile operators. Blyk had been in discussions with Vodafone Netherlands about running its own MVNO, akin to its UK service. The UK newspaper says that going forward, Vodafone will provide the mobile infrastructure, while Blyk provides technology and advertising sales for an own-branded service, sharing revenues with the operator.