Why we will miss Oi Móvel – APK Games

Oi Móvel will be missed (Image: Vitor Pádua / APK Games)

THE Hi Mobile was sold in 2020, and customers are finally being transferred to Claro, TIM and Vivo. It is an operator that will stay in the memory for a long time: in addition to having good prices and funny commercials, the company was responsible for some revolutions in the Brazilian cell phone market.

The commercials were fun

For a long time, Oi stood out in the market for being a younger brand and different from traditional operators, which always carried a more sober tone in their campaigns.

The truth is that Oi had a “poetic freedom” that other operators took a long time to have in their commercials. It’s not every day that you see a commercial that satirizes the tone of voice and beauty of potential customers:

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Some commercials were even funny without making sense. An example is this advertisement made with actress Débora Falabella, whose voice changed to that of an advertising announcer when announcing the price of the plan:

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I really like Oi’s debut campaign in the state of São Paulo in 2008: a jingle mocked the “sameness” of other operators.

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Oi launched bizarre products

Oi has always been a brand that was concerned with its visual identity. One of the coolest features was that the cell phones sold by the operator had their original and bland box replaced with a green Oi case.

Oi cell phone box
Oi cell phone box (Image: Reproduction / Mercado Livre)

But Oi’s products were not limited to boxes. In the early 2000s, the operator launched Oi Xuxa, a Siemens A40 cell phone with decorated cases, a ‘ilariê‘ and messages from the queen of the shorties. It was such a simple device that it didn’t even have games, but Oi tried to solve that by creating games in the chip’s menu.

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Oi focused on teenagers and young adults: the operator also launched Oi MTV, with content from the station, chat and music downloads, and also Oi Universitário, with which it offered tips on finding internships.

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An operator that innovated but did not take off

Oi didn’t just live on strange products, and the operator made an effort to be innovative. In 2007 — a time when smartphones did not exist and mobile internet was something non-existent or luxurious — Oi Paggo was launched, a virtual credit card controlled entirely via cell phone.

It was possible to pay commercial establishments, and transactions between the consumer and the shopkeeper were carried out via SMS messages. The service had a monthly fee of BRL 2.50, at a time when Google Pay or Samsung Pay did not even exist in our thoughts.

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For many, Oi Móvel was an innovative operator. By adopting GSM technology from the beginning, the handset portfolio was extensive and with specifications many times higher than the competition — especially Claro and TIM, which in many states used the old TDMA.

Of course, this reign of having cool devices didn’t last long: in a few years all competitors migrated their old technologies to GSM.

Marketing strategies that challenged the market

There’s no denying it: Oi stirred the mobile telephony market and dictated some trends replicated by the market.

31 years free calls

Oi Móvel was born in 2002, with exclusive operations in the areas of the former Telemar — that is, the North, Northeast and Southeast regions, with the exception of the state of São Paulo. With no cell phone customers, the launch campaign was very aggressive and promised 31 years of free calls from Oi to Oi on weekends.

Oi insert with promotion that promised 31 years of free calls on weekends
31-year free promotion marked the beginning of Oi Móvel (Image: Reproduction)

These days, with plans that are unlimited, calling for free on weekends is a benefit that means nothing. However, Oi’s 31-year promotion was a success for many years: cell phone calls were very expensive in the 2000s, with charges that often exceeded R$1 per minute on prepaid.

The chips with the Oi 31 years promotion have become valuable over the years: a report by Sheet tells the case of a user who exchanged his SIM Card for a Chevette (!). Today it shouldn’t be worth anything.

It’s a shame that Oi Móvel didn’t last all 31 years to fulfill its launch promotion. The operator debuted in 2002 and had the sale concluded in 2022. Well, it was a maximum of 20 years of free calls on weekends.

Who loves, blocks

In 2007, Oi started one of its most iconic campaigns and challenged the mobile telephony market in Brazil. The carrier has taken a stand against SIM Lock — when the device is locked for use with a specific carrier.

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Until then, all major operators — including Oi itself — sold GSM cell phones with a lock, even if they were purchased without discounts or loyalty bonds. If you wanted to switch to another company, you would have to unlock the device so that the new chip could work.

Some time later, an Anatel resolution prohibited operators from charging for cell phone unlocking; with that, all sense in selling blocked devices was lost.

To win more customers in São Paulo, Oi started to unlock handsets from other operators in its stores for free. More than 80,000 cell phones were released between August and October.

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It was against plans with fidelity (but later applied again)

After the aggressive campaign against blocking devices, Oi also waged war on the competition by excluding fidelity from all its mobile plans. With this, the customer could cancel the service and change operator any time.

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In a certain campaign, Oi even started to pay the loyalty fine of customers of other operators to win new users willing to subscribe to a postpaid plan.

The problem is that this positioning did not last long, and a few years later Oi returned to commercialize plans with loyalty. This is the case with Oi Fibra today: whoever cancels the package before one year must pay a fine for breach of contract.

Plans were incredibly cheap

At the end of its useful life, Oi Móvel started to sell very aggressive plans. Of course, TIM and Vivo do not offer anything in their portfolios that can be compared to prepaid, in which every R$1 is equivalent to 1 GB of internet.

With BRL 25, an Oi pre-service customer could get 25 GB of internet, unlimited calls and free access to Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Print from Oi's website with prepaid plan
Oi’s prepaid plan had 25 GB of internet for R$ 25 per month

The more expensive plans were also aggressive: for R$50 a month, the company sold Oi Controle with 100 GB of internet and free access to Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and WhatsApp.

We must not forget the plan with unlimited internet, with a monthly cost of R$ 99.90. Meanwhile, Claro, TIM and Vivo struggle to offer 50 GB franchises with the same value.

Even with cheap prices, Oi ended up not being the first choice of mobile operator for many people. In many places the signal was poor or non-existent, the internet was slow and the coverage 4G did not reach many Brazilian municipalities. Even so, it was an important company to generate competition in the market.


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