Blyk, a new mobile network aimed at the 16-24 age group, launched in the UK today. It will offer free text messages and airtime in return for sending ads to customers’ handsets.

Blyk will work on an invitiation only basis, and use of its network will be restricted to 16-24 year olds. It will offer a fairly-arbitrary 217 texts and 43 minutes every month to its users.

In return, customers agree to receive up to six advertising messages per day. After the UK launch, Blyk plans to expand its network across Europe in 2008.

Blyk aims to offer a highly targeted audience for advertisers – the company will gather information about each user when they sign up, and through ongoing monitoring.

Antti Öhrling, who founded the  company with former Nokia president Pekka Ala-Pietilä, said that many of the mobile industry’s biggest names are wrong about the future of mobile.  

Öhrling said that mobile was more about communication than content:

“The first myth that people tend to believe is that content is king in the mobile domain. You have to think about the medium. Mobile is a communications channel, not a content channel. The next generation of the mobile experience will still be around communication, not content.”

The Blyk business model will be interesting to keep an eye on. Will there be enough upside for the advertisers for them to continue supporting a ‘free’ mobile network? It’s a tough call, considering how fickle this demographic can be.

In the future we’re wondering whether this sort of thing could be adopted by the likes of Sky, in some shape or form.

Related stories:

10 reasons why mobile advertising is doomed

Nokia buys mobile ad firm

Related research:

Mobile Marketing – Roundtable Briefing, June 2007