News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Friday, 5 June 2009

Football fever goes mobile

I am a football addict (translation for US readers: soccer; I don't have anything against the gridiron game, but I don't understand why it's called "football" when only the kicker and punter use their feet). My own team drifted out of contention for any honours this year a long time ago, but I retained an interest at the business end of the 2008-09 season by watching the European Cup final and the FA Cup final in quick succession. The last throes of football fever before a long, dry summer of cricket and other minor irritations.

Football fever in Turkey, however, never seems to die down. I think of myself as a fanatic, but my dedication to my team pales, I think, into insignificance when compared to the mania for the game demonstrated by followers of Istanbul's big three clubs - Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. Thanks to a friendly reader of this blog, I am now aware that the latter two of these footballing powerhouses have entered the mobile services space, thanks to arrangements with Avea, the cellco associated with national incumbent fixed-line operator Türk Telekom.

On visits to Turkey, I'd heard that the time is not yet right for full-blown MVNOs to make their market debut in the country - something to do with how the services would be taxed. So, as confirmed by the friendly Istanbul-based reader of this blog, the two football clubs' offering is based on a reseller business model for now.

Galatsaray's fans, doubtless disappointed with their team finishing 5th in the Turkcell Süper Lig (sponsored by the county's market-leading MNO), might be consoled just a little by the prospect of cheap calls via GSMobile. That said, I'd guess today's appointment of fomer Ajax and AC Milan genius Frank Rijkaard as team manager is probably a bigger deal.

Fenerbahçe followers, meanwhile, probably much not less annoyed at only finishing 4th in the table, can take advantage of the service of Fenercell.

Beşiktaş fans, as far as I understand, do not have a club-branded mobile offering to enjoy. The fact that they won the league title and saw their deadly rivals under-performing probably more than mitigates the disappointment, though.

Each of these clubs has a huge fan base. Access to subscriber data about a very loyal customer base could be a massive advantage to a prospective MVNO. So it will be interesting to see how these enterprises fare.

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