In a bid to encourage their users to access social networks through their handsets, Virgin Mobile U.S.A. has recently announced two new services.
The two services, named “Connect” and “Mobile Lounge”, will be available to users at no extra cost. They will only be required to pay the usual internet access charges.
By logging in through Connect, users of Virgin Mobile and Helio (which Virgin Mobile took over last summer) will be able to receive updates regarding the activity of their contacts, on various sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Users will not be required to log in and out of each of these sites separately, thus making it quicker and easier to access any of these sites. Connect, will also have an integrated standard RSS reader to access news sites, blogs etc.
Initially Connect will be available to post paid users on handsets like Ocean, Drift, Fin, Heat, Mysto etc. Prepaid users should have access to this service by the first quarter of the next year.
Mobile Lounge, on the other hand will be like an exclusive social network, available only to Virgin Mobile users. These users will be able to set up chat rooms, discussion boards, contests, microblogging capabilities etc with each other.
Since the facility will be available only to users of Virgin Mobile, only time will tell how useful customers will find it as a social network.
In order to encourage users to avail of Mobile Lounge, Virgin Mobile will reward them with points, every time they use the service to post a photo, write a blog or win a contest. These points can then be exchanged for free talk time.
Mobile lounge will be available to Virgin Mobile users having handsets like Flare, Slash, Shuttle etc. They will also be provided with services like news, games and ringtones at just 15 cents per day.
Since Virgin Mobile users are mostly in their teens or early twenties, this move seems to be very appropriate, as these youngsters are very interested in social networking.