Monday, 26 March 2007

Why's it free then?

We get this asked a lot. It seems that people simply can't believe that something with the crispy goodness of the Mobizines service doesn't come with a hidden cost.

The truth is a little more complicated: we don't charge most people to use Mobizines. Download the app, choose your content and we'll never bother you with a bill. But in some circumstances you can end up paying a little (less than a pint, assuming you drink premium imported lager in Central London) to read Mobizines.

People on the Three network in the UK and on T-Mobile in Hungary, for example, pay a small subscription. In both those cases you get charged a tiny amount (£2.99 at Three) a month to use Mobizines, because those operators have chosen to charge for services rather than data.

We're also launching some premium channels, such as the Chelsea FC Mobizine, that need a text subscription. (UPDATE: apparently, Chelsea's free too! Nobody tells me nuffink.) So there's a charge for that (UPDATE: or there isn't rather), although the other 60 or so titles are and will remain free (UPDATE: including Chelsea!).

Which brings us to the other way you might get charged for Mobizines: data. The mobile operators charge rather a lot for data access on the move in the UK. (We also have a South Africa operation and the average megabyte costs about 10% of the price in the UK.) Mobizines is a data service and grabs content from the server when it gets updated. The more Mobizines you have, the more data you use.

The best deal at the moment is the one I'm on: T-Mobile provide unlimited data access for something like £7.50 a month. The worst are things like the Orange Raccoon packages where data can cost you a £1 a megabyte once you go over your four megabyte allowance.

The other answer to the "Why's it free?" question is that we're planning to support the service on the back of advertising. If you're using Mobizines already then you'll already know what I mean by advertising and you'll know that they're not exactly intrusive. But the people with the big spreadsheets here reckon we can fund the entire operation on ads like those (and if you've ever been on the phone to one of our sales guys you're more likely to believe that, because they can talk the hind legs off a donkey, and then sell them back at 15% mark-up.)

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