AT&T's All-In-One Mobile-Social Play
AT&T's exclusive deal for the iPhone has benefited the wireless operator enormously, pulling in new subscribers and boosting its bottom line. But the carrier's own application storefront -- the AT&T MEdia Mall -- has been unquestionably overshadowed by Apple's App Store, generating more than 1.5 billion downloads in the last year.
AT&T has sparked some app buzz of its own, announcing a new mobile app via the MEdia Mall that offers simultaneous access to popular social networking services including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Developed by iSkoot, the free AT&T Social Net app aggregates status updates, tweets, Wall posts and other information from social media properties as well as live news feeds from 35 news and entertainment sites. Because it works in the background, it can also notify users about updates to social networking accounts even when it is closed.
"Five of the top 10 searches on our mobile Web portal are for social networking sites, a clear indication of the growing popularity of mobile social networking," said Mark Collins, vice president of voice and data products, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, in a statement. "With this app, we're satisfying the increasing demand for aggregation apps that make it easy for customers to be active in multiple communities simultaneously."
AT&T says the Social Net app is compatible with 20 of its handsets including the Motorola V3 and Samsung Jack, but not the iPhone. While the app is free, the carrier strongly recommends that users upgrade to an unlimited data plan, since standard rates apply on data and messaging while using Social Net. Like its major carrier rivals, AT&T is looking to mobile data usage as a way to grow revenue with voice service becoming a commodity.
Social Net was among the first apps to be featured in the Apps Beta program that AT&T launched in April, which lets developers test new mobile apps with its customers before releasing them widely. Apps that fare especially well in testing, like Social Net (previously called Notifier), gain the opportunity to be sold or distributed through the MEdia Mall.
By identifying promising apps early on, AT&T hopes to build interest among customers, which in turn will encourage developers to work with the carrier to come up with hot apps. Some 100,000 developers already work with Apple to create iPhone apps -- the sales of which AT&T doesn't get a dime as service provider. As of Wednesday at least, it appeared the Social Net announcement had helped make AT&T a trending topic on Twitter.