Mobile start-up Blyk has signed advertising deals with a number of large-brand names after speculation that it is close to a signing a deal with UK mobile operator Orange to allow its service to used on its network.
Blyk was founded in January 2006 and is headed up by the former president of Nokia Corp, Pekka Ala-Pietila. It touts itself as a free mobile operator for the youth market. The catch is that it is funded by advertising. This means that in exchange for free mobile calls and SMS messages, its 16-to-24-year-old target base receive ads on their mobile handsets.
It plans to launch in the UK in mid-2007, with other European markets expected to follow.
On Monday it revealed that brand names such as Buena Vista, Coca-Cola, i-play Mobile Gaming, L’Oreal Paris, StepStone, and Yell.com will advertise on the Blyk network.
The Guardian newspaper meanwhile speculated at the weekend that Orange could be the host network for the advertising-funded service. The only other potential mobile is T-Mobile, as Vodafone Group Plc, 3 UK, and O2 Plc have ruled themselves as the host network.
The start-up has offices in Finland and the UK.