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JUST Mobile Launches in Ireland

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DateThursday, October 21, 2010

Just Mobile Launches in Ireland 

Day One - Mass Distribution and 99.5% Coverage and - Mission Accomplished Says Ireland's

Newest Mobile Operator...Almost!



JUST_MOBILE_Stuart_Kelly_and_Donal_Lawless.jpgThere's another new kid in the mobile operator space. And according to JUST Mobile co-founder Stuart Kelly, their mission yesterday, was to launch the first wholly owned Irish mobile operator with 99.5% coverage and a channel to hundreds of thousands of pre-paid mobile customers from day one.



Talking exclusively to at their bacon and coffee launch at O'Donoghues in Dublin's city centre, Kelly, who was also a co-founder of Openet Telecom, explained that the success of JUST Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), is based on two key ingredients - Vodafone and BWG Foods, the company that operates the SPAR, SPAR Express, EUROSPAR, MACE and XL brands across Ireland.



Kelly said: "From 7:00am this morning, up to a million people have been able to walk in to any one of BWG's 650 stores in 500 towns and villages across Ireland and buy a JUST Mobile SIM card or top-up allowing them to instantly make calls and send texts on our network "



Kelly claims JUST Mobile have more stores selling their top-ups than any other operator in Ireland. For sure, that would be an extremely impressive achievement for a new operator, let alone a new Irish start-up operator. But sadly, it's not a fact.



JUST Mobile's strategy is to leverage BWG's local shopping community. BWG, whose chairman, Willie O'Byrne, was once the Head of Wholesale at O2 Communications, has a vested interest in making sure their customers purchased JUST Mobile top-ups and Kelly stressed that BWG's staff had been trained to sell and influence network switches with customers who wanted to buy other operator's top-ups. Mr Kelly also implied their research had proven that Irish people like to buy Irish products, and this alone should guarantee them a healthy level of success. staff visited three EUROSPAR shops yesterday afternoon and asked for unspecified SIMs and top-ups. Barrow Street, where brands such as content-on-demand company Populis, solicitors Mason Hayes and Curran and Google's HQ  is located, employs several thousand young professionals who are JUST Mobile's likely demographic of pre-paying mobile customers. In the EUROSPAR there was no evidence of any JUST Mobile branding, and when we asked to buy a SIM we were informed that we would need to go right into the city centre. We asked which network we should buy to get the best value, and were told Vodafone or O2. Not a great start for JUST Mobile!



Teething problems? We hope so, because whilst you'd expect a MACE in the middle of nowhere not to be fully versed from day one, it's certainly reasonable to expect a Dublin based store the size of Barrow Street to be so, especially in light of the extensive advertising and marketing campaign which came to life yesterday morning.



JUST Mobile is a refreshing change from the corporate stiffiness of the current operators and they do seem to offer the consumer good value. Calls are charged at 20c per minute and 9c for texts. Voicemail is free. Top-ups start from only €4 and are available as €9, €13 and €18 vouchers, which, whilst a little gimicky perhaps, does give customers change in their pockets. 



Kelly removes the myth of ‘free' credit and use of the word ‘unlimited' by other mobile operators, highlighting how they persuade customers to pay more than they really need to: "JUST Mobile recognises that traditional mobile operators only offer additional incentives to pre‐paid customers when they top‐up in increments of €20 or more. In fact, the operators are hedging that the customer does not use the full top-up in the allocated time-frame and so the free element becomes profit for them. Sadly this is a common marketing ploy that is happening across all the operators, except us!"



JUST Mobile's aggressive pricing and national distribution positions it to capture a sizeable portion of the Irish pre‐paid mobile market, which accounts for over 70% of the total mobile market, or 3.5 million customers. Kelly says that they are hoping to win 4% (140,000 customers) of the market over the next four years.



The company is backed by Powerscourt Investments owned by telecom entrepreneur Sean Melly who has taken the role of Chairman on the JUST Mobile board. Kelly would not disclose the terms of Powerscourt funding, however claims both he and co-founder Donal Lawless had invested over €1m between them. Their project began around three years ago as the two childhood friends started talking about operating a network. They looked at the UK, France and Germany, but research suggested that Ireland was the least competitive and the most profitable mobile telco market in Europe, giving them the best return on their money. They approached Vodafone, known to have an MVNO strategy to reach customers that ordinarily they might not, and BWG for mass distribution.


Presently JUST Mobile have 25 people employed in Swords and expect up to 70 jobs will be created over the next 24 months as the company penetrates the marketplace.



The company says it will be offering entry level phones valued between €35 and €80 through the BWG stores. These include Motorola 161 and Nokia 1800 and 2690. Higher end models are available on their website.



Data plans are expected in late November.



Lawless commented: "JUST Mobile is kicking the recession where it hurts. Our offering is simple, transparent and better than anything available in the market today. We are offering flat call and text rates to every customer including they simply can't afford or don't want to top‐up in large amounts in one go."





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