Blog Post

The Mad Ad World & Cheap Calls

[qi:86]Technology business often goes through periods where rationality and reality are suspended. We just might be in that phase, and nothing highlights that than the launch of ad-supported phone services. In UK, Blyk, an ad-supported mobile service we wrote about eons ago launched. Given the high tariffs in Europe they might have a prayer of a chance, but don’t hold your breath.

Want to know what’s more stupid: this ad-supported experiment called The Pudding, which is getting a lot of attention. it is one of the more inane ideas out there, worse than say yet-another-social-bookmarking service. Never mind, that over here calls are cheap enough that most of us don’t really want to put up with the extra steps to save a few pennies.

Will you listen to ads in exchange for free calls?
  • Yes, after all a penny saved is penny earned
  • No… it isn’t worth the hassle
  • I make my company pay for my phone

12 Responses to “The Mad Ad World & Cheap Calls”

  1. I think you guys are missing the big picture here. Today, we see the advertising as simply an intrusion – a way to pay the piper.

    But what if Pudding could really deliver useful information to us during a phone call? Routing your call “through the cloud” brings access to massive processing power and the terabytes of information that are online today.

    Once we become comfortable that the cloud is a 3rd party on our call, a world of possibilities opens up. Consider the parallels to other aspects of our life that have moved to the cloud. Gmail exposes me to ads in exchange for free email service. But, I don’t use Gmail to save money. In fact, I have email options available to me that are zero-cost and ad-free. I use Gmail because I like having all of my email in the cloud, available from any computer and searchable.

    Cloud-routing of phone calls is ultimately going to improve the calling experience. If it’s done right you will want to make your calls through the cloud and it won’t be about saving money at all.

    More …

  2. Meshari Alnajdi

    Teenagers spend “fortunes” on mobile phone calls and messages every month. I think BLYK had an excellent chance to succeed by targeting that category of consumers. Personally, it doesn’t bother me to receive 4 or 5 ads/day in exchange of free minutes or messages. Whenever we turn our heads, we feel surrounded by ads. At least this one will pay you back.

  3. Jesse Kopelman

    This kind of thing could still work for international calling. There is a target audience that only calls international once or twice a month — not enough to make it worth it to pay a surcharge for a better rate plan, but enough that you’d like to save a few bucks. I know I’d be willing to listen to an add or two, if it kept the call price down to 10c/minute or lower but kept real toll-grade quality.

  4. Alexander van Elsas

    Hi Om, thanks for the post. Bad idea ad supported free mobile phones. It will never work. It’s useful for the mobile operator and for the advertiser, but there won’t be many users out there who would let advertisement hit their private space so hard. The mobile phone has become an important aspect of your personal identity. It is almost a remote control of your life. Can you imagine a kid going to school and admitting he is using an ad supported free mobile phone? For more on this check out my earlier post on this if you’re interested:

  5. I was skeptical and voted no on your poll. But it looks like you get 43 free minutes per month, which is all I talk on my pre-paid mobile phone in some months (I use VoIP at home). Still, I don’t think I’m their customer.

    I haven’t decided yet if these ad-phones are an indication just how desperate traditional media is for new eyeballs or simply the market responding to the needs of students and low-income families.

    Imagine the context ads of pudding combined with the mobile phone. Shiver.