Page 5: Strategic partnerships
The Freeserve software continues to be pre-loaded or bundled with the vast majority of PCs and related hardware sold through the Dixons Group stores. The development of new platforms, such as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) mobile phones and the brand new broadband platforms has enabled Freeserve to maintain its market position.
Freeserve has a unique partnership with BT Cellnet, which has enabled unrivalled distribution in this new market. The launch of the Freeserve-branded mobile phone will further extend brand awareness and Freeserve remains better placed than any of its competitors to capitalise as Internet access becomes mobile.
Broadband platforms are still in their formative stages of development in the UK, but Freeserve plans to be the premier broadband portal. This will dramatically increase access and reduce connection time and costs, and enable, amongst other things pay-per-view and pay-per download opportunities. Freeserve will launch its first broadband Internet services using ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology in 2000.
The Freeserve Brand
Freeserve has been very successful with its new brand image. Brand awareness has grown markedly and the new identity, logo and “Be Free, Be Freeserve” advertising campaign has been very effective. The portal has been completely redesigned. Most importantly to the overall strategy, the public perception has changed from Freeserve as a good value service provider to the UK’s premier portal. This is an example of re-positioning.
One of the most important elements of Freeserve’s strategy for the future is to form partnerships thus making strategic investments and acquisitions and beginning new ventures. These form an important part of the financial strategy to achieve the overall corporate objectives. Through these partnerships, Freeserve has been able to grow much faster than if it stood alone.
For some partnerships, Freeserve offers all the necessary Internet expertise, experience in consumer product marketing and access to a large and growing consumer base. The partners are chosen for the quality of their goods and services and their ability to engage with the consumers. They range from well known High Street brands such as Interflora and Thomas Cook to new generation Internet brands such as eToys and PetsPyjamas.
Other examples of significant, high quality partnerships include clearlybusiness.com (a 60:40 joint venture with Barclays PLC) and stockacademy - a joint venture for online share trading.