Verizon Wireless and iSkoot announced the availability of Social Beat, a free social media app that allows Verizon customers to connect with popular social media sites with feature phones.
In so doing, the two seem to be doing for feature phones what so many OEMs are doing with smartphones – giving them easy access to social networking sites. “We make all phones smarter,” says Mark Jacobstein, CEO of iSkoot. “It’s a great social media experience,” and one that usually is reserved for high-end smarpthones.
Social Beat connects users to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, among others, and displays more than 50 customer-selected feeds from news, sports and entertainment sources. The system operates on a push model, so users don’t have to go browsing for updates.
Part of the carrier proposition for iSkoot’s solution is it’s a great way for them to get a customer to better appreciate the value of a data plan, either before they subscribe to one or before they churn off, Jacobstein says. Historically, it’s been hard to convince feature phone owners that it’s worth subscribing to a data plan.
The Verizon application initially is launching with about 20 Brew devices, including the LG Chocolate, but more are in the works. Customers can download Social Beat by selecting Get Going in the Get It Now/Media Center, by texting or by visiting Verizon’s online media store.
iSkoot might be better known as the company that went to market with Skype and Hutchison Whampoa for an easy-to-use VoIP calling service, but the same technology applies to social networking as well.
Verizon isn’t the first U.S. carrier to incorporate iSkoot’s technology. It’s also behind AT&T’s Social Net product announced in July. Verizon added e-mail and instant messaging as well.