Sunday, June 15, 2008

easyMobile comes back, but the calls aren't free as Stelios had announced

The British phone company easyMobile is back, 18 months after it had to shut down. But this time the brand name doesn't stand for a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). The Greek serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, also founder of the airline easyJet and other successful low cost product ventures, has changed the business model entirely and doesn't comply with his former announcement about the future of easyMobile.

Exactly one year ago Stelios told me that he wanted to resuscitate the company as MVNO with free phone calls, sponsored by advertising. A similar business was already in the making under the name of Blyk, a UK based start-up by the former president of Nokia Corporation, Pekka Ala-Pietilä. It launched some months later but it seems that Blyk hasn't conviced Stelios, because the new easyMobile is nothing more than a new face for the Swedish VoIP company Rebtel. The press release says:
Rebtel, the people's global communications company, today announced a brand licensing agreement with easyGroup that will allow Rebtel to increase its presence in the UK and reach new markets for its mobile VoIP services.

easyGroup is the business of easyJet founder and serial entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Under the agreement, Rebtel-powered services for making low cost international phone calls from any mobile phone, over any UK network, will be sold and marketed on easyGroup's web site.
Rebtel's CEO Hjalmar Windbladh sounds very enthusiastic. "Sir Stelios and easyGroup are our kind of partners", he says. "They want to make a difference in people's lives. They offer services for the many, not the few. They take on the big boys in the market and treasure relentless innovation. And most importantly they're open and honest. Those are all values that Rebtel was built on."

Hopefully his cooperation lasts longer than the former easyMobile. Stelios is a genius in lending his brand name, but he also tends to end franchising very fast. The first easyMobile was planned as pan European MVNO in 12 countries. The Danish operator TDC licensed the brand from Stelios' easyGroup but things didn't turn out so well. TDC got bought and changed their business strategy which made Stelios retract the brandname. In just 48 hours the German branch had to change its name into callmobile. „You always have to be cautious that the franchisees don't damage your established brand name“, Stelios said in our interview.

Hjalmar be careful!

1 comment:

  1. I must comment on how brilliantly easyM have marketed this new deal with Rebtel:

    Your article here is the very first time I've ever heard about it!

    I had a bit of an impression of the last easyMobile that the Danes did all the work, while after the initial launch Stelios just sat back and collected (and boasted about) the brand licence rental fees


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