Blyk, the MVNO which eschewed charging customers in preference to giving away services, has run out of advertisers and will be shutting down UK operations come the end of August.
The Blyk premise was to fund the whole operation from advertising to its customers, giving away telecommunications in exchange for targeting advertising delivered over MMS. For a while the model seemed to be working, but following rumours of a shutdown last week the company has now admitted it will be pulling the plug at midnight on 26 August.
Blyk suffered from the fact that those unwilling to pay for services tend to be less interesting to advertisers, as one devoted fan responded to the news (spelling is all his own):
"WHAT! thats a big kick in the head I don’t think I could live without my free credit and product messeges ect. I love blyk I tell everyone about it and don’t want to see it end. WHY! I think we all need a better explernation than this to why you are canceling BLYK in the UK."
Indeed, many of Blyk's customers seem to have a problem understanding why a company that gave away mobile telecommunications would have a problem sustaining the business during a worldwide economic crisis. Blyk should really be credited with an orderly shutdown: the company will provide PAC codes for those wishing to migrate their numbers and the service will continue to operate (including the free calls and text messages) for the next 30 days.
Blyk will continue to operate in the Netherlands, carried on Vodafone's network there, and appears to still have plans to expand into Germany, Spain and Belgium. Still, the demise of the UK operation is a serious blow both to the company and to the concept of advertising-funded telecommunications - Google Voice might want to take note. ®