So, Blyk is now live.
I had high hopes for this MVNO when it first became known that someone would attempt to provide a free service on the back of advertising to a targeted base.
I am not the only one and my only fear is that Blyk's future becomes a talisman for the health and potential of mobile advertising.
Of course, this fear is only a problem if Blyk does not succeed; if it blows all growth expectations out of the water then such association is good for all concerned.
But, where is the downside?
We know that mobile is the most intimate of channels which holds a special relationship with the user, increasing its usability with every new phone feature.
We know that there is a tidal wave of advertising money out there looking for a home as TV becomes less and less effective and advertisers look for other channels.
We know that there is a market out there for the 16-24 years olds: if you were to a brand recognition test on Genie in this age group today I think you would still get a reading most brands would kill for.
My fears can be conveyed with a KISS
Keep It Simple, Stupid
I had this drummed into me many times in the past and know from my own experience how I have always tried to justify subconsciously that the inevitable compromises will not matter, that the user will still go through the process because what you are (eventually) offering them is very cool.
My fears for Blyk are: what is free is not that compelling; how to take advantage of the offer is too complicated.
The offer is 217 texts and 43 minutes free each month. This is the communication tagline!
Rather than sounding a lot, it sounds scientific and as if Blyk is counting hard just in case you go over your allocation - operator speak and ethos infects everywhere. Aside from the communication, I am not sure it is even that much for this age group with overrun then at standard Orange pay-as-you-go rates, 10p per text or 15p per minute.
Then for the offer itself, you need to have an unlocked phone or an Orange phone to use the SIM card. You can buy the phones - undiscounted - on the Blyk site if you wish. If you buy a Blyk SIM card to put into your O2 phone - unlucky!
For the mass market, this kind of inconvenience matters and one user who has misunderstood the instructions repeats it to another which kills your viral effect.
This lesson comes from my own experience and leads me to fear for Blyk. Please guys, you have a phenomenal idea: please move mountains to simplify the experience from both a technical and a communications perspective.