By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Shortly before the launch press conference of Amaysim, the new low cost mobile phone Optus reseller, TPMG managing director Greg Smith approached this reporter to ask a loaded question: “what’s a flagfall?” he posed.

The response: “it’s a fee you pay to engage a service, whether you mean to use that service for a long time or for no time at all”.

Smith, whose name tagged actually read ‘expert’, laughed in agreement. “Then why do we pay them?” he said.

Smith doesn’t actually work for Amaysim, which held its official launch this morning at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. He was engaged to read over the magnitude of terms and conditions that are present in any mobile phone offering. The real Amaysim clan are a troupe of ‘serial entrepreneurs’ from Australia and Germany. The CEO is Rolf Hansen, a Hamburger who has previously launched low cost, pay for what you use mobile phone services in its home country and several other European nations.

He has come to Australia because he believes we are the perfect market for such a model. Apparently we are paying far too much for our mobile phone services, with three large carriers sitting on millions of contracted users. Amaysim’s remit is to shake this up, with its USP being similar to that of the low cost, no frills airlines that have so disrupted the rusted on traditional airlines over the last decade.

The deal is this: you have your own phone and you’re looking for something different. Pick up a $2 SIM card from one of several retail outlets or through Amaysim’s online site. You choose pre- or post paid, with the latter requiring a credit check. There are no contracts. You pay 15 cents per minute (no flagfall), 12 cents per text message and 5 cents per megabyte of data (or $9.95 for 1 gigabyte). You are then on the Optus network, which is apparently better than Vodafone but worse than Telstra, if you believe a very informal survey of mobile phone journalists.

The retailers on board are Harvey Norman, Woolworths (including Dick Smith), Myer, Coles, Franklins, 7-Eleven and Caltex. The very ambiguous plus ‘many more’ is written on the press release.

To get out there in the face of potential consumers, Amaysim is conducting a “double digit million dollar” marketing campaign. This will include television, print, radio, online, point of sale, billboards and buses. The branding is interesting: with Amaysim styling itself in strong orange themes. There used to be a different upstart with the same strategy.

Despite having so much to crow about, the most interesting aspect of the press conference was Rolf Hansen’s grasp of the zeitgeist. He said that although we all love impromptu long distance calls to the Philippines and India, Amaysim will be basing its customer service team in the Sydney CBD.

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