Verizon Wireless has partnered with iSkoot to launch an application promising easy access to popular social properties including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter in one place. The free Social Beat app allows subscribers to view and manage their social network accounts through live feeds and real-time notifications.
In addition to seeing friends' status updates and news feeds, Social Beat also allows subscribers to post status messages, tweets, and comments. People can also access email and get updates from personalized news feeds on their phones.
Mobile software startup iSkoot also powers a similar social aggregator app -- AT&T Social Net -- introduced by AT&T earlier this year. Both moves highlight efforts by wireless carriers to harness social networking to boost mobile data usage and attract new customers.
New research released by eMarketer Wednesday suggests that activity on sites such as Facebook, MocoSpace and foursquare has been a major driver of mobile Internet use.
The firm predicts that the number of mobile users accessing social networks from mobile devices will reach 607.5 million worldwide by 2013, or 43% of global mobile Internet users. In the U.S., 56.2 million people will be social networking via cell phone by then, accounting for 45% of the mobile Web users.
eMarketer projects that mobile social network users worldwide will grow more than fivefold in the next five years, jumping from 141.4 million in 2009 to 760.1 million in 2014.
Part of the reason for the rapid uptake is that mobile apps from the likes of Facebook and MySpace have remained ad-free to date. While the adoption rates have been impressive, "gaining a voice in the conversations taking place across mobile social networks will prove challenging for marketers," said Noah Elkin, a senior analyst at eMarketer and author of the new report, in a statement.
While Verizon is now making a major push into the smartphone market with Motorola's Droid, the carrier said the Social Beat app will be available across more than 20 feature phones including the LG enV and LG Chocolate.