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In the Philippines: free phone love with a viral twist

Telecoms & Mobile

Regular Springwise readers no doubt remember Blyk, the Finnish free mobile operator that targets 16- to 24-year-olds with its ad-funded service. We covered Blyk’s British rollout on several occasions over the past year or so, and now one of our spotters has come across a similar concept that recently launched in the Philippines. ümobile is an invitation-only mobile service and community that targets 15- to 35-year-old Filipinos with what it says is the first ad-funded mobile network in Asia, offering a range of telephony services including calls, texts, MMS, internet surfing and downloads. Beginning in June, when the service was launched by Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE)–part of Philippine telco Smart–potential users were invited to apply for membership through a series of invite codes that were given away virally (and free) by already-accepted members or through online social networks. Young consumers with codes could then fill out ümobile’s membership application, which includes a range of personal information as well as lifestyle questions such as preferences in movies and music and whether or not they go to a gym, for example. Also required is a willingness to accept ads, of course. Based on their answers, Filipinos who were approved by Aug. 31 were given their ümobile SIM cards for free–delivered at no charge–along with a free PHP 100 load every month for the next six months. Just how many ads users will be sent each day isn’t yet clear, but viewing them earns further rewards in the form of free loads or discounts and freebies. A portion of the revenues generated by a brand’s campaigns is given back to subscribers, who can then purchase ümobile services or pursue product offers. Is there any market free love can’t conquer? Seems unlikely. Mobile operators: where will you spread some love of your own…? Spotted by: Matthew Cua



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