Virgin Mobile USA's over 4.8 million customers can now access a variety of social networking opportunities including a group of niche-targeted mobile-optimized sites. The leading youth wireless provider is partnered with Intercasting Corporation (http://www.intercasting.com) on its ANTHEM platform to bring a selection of diverse Web-based social networking and community sites to customers' fingertips through a single and intuitive mobile solution.
Social networking sites now available to Virgin Mobile USA's customers include:
* AsianAve (http://www.asianave.com) -- set to be the premier online destination for Asian Americans 18+ to network socially, professionally and culturally, offering opportunities for all generations of Asian Americans to meet new people in their area
* BlackPlanet (http://www.blackplanet.com) -- the leader in African-American social networking and the fifth largest U.S. social networking property/publisher measured in page views [ComScore Media Metrix June 2007], with more than 16.5 million members
* GLEE (Gay, Lesbian and Everyone Else) (http://www.glee.com) -- has become one of the top-20 gay sites on the Web within just five months and is the only social and professional networking site for the GLBT community
* MiGente (http://www.migente.com) -- the fastest growing English language site for the Hispanic community with more than 2.8 million members
* LiveJournal (http://www.livejournal.com) -- lets users express themselves, share and connect with friends online in a number of different ways including as a private journal, a blog, a discussion forum, a social network, and more. LiveJournal has communities for everyone.
* Rabble (http://www.rabble.com) -- connects users who share similar interests, experiences and even geographical proximity
* Vox (http://www.vox.com) -- connects users who want to meet new people or keep in touch with friends, start a blog, post photos, watch videos, create a group, or just discover interesting things. Vox is easy to use and has a powerful set of privacy features. Vox has partnered with top content providers to create a seamless user experience.
* Xanga (http://www.xanga.com) -- a community of online diaries and journals
"We've built our success around empowering our customers and giving them maximum flexibility and control," said Dominick Tolli, vice president for Virgin Mobile USA's Mobile Data Services division. "There is a growing number of social networking sites that reflect different lifestyles and interests, and we're committed to putting our customers in the driver's seat: that is, enabling them to create their own individual experiences, determining how and with whom they want to communicate, whenever they like."
"We are dedicated to providing carriers the tools to offer a comprehensive mobile social networking strategy," said Shawn Conahan, chairman and CEO, Intercasting Corp. "Serving Virgin Mobile USA is an opportunity to connect their subscriber base, the target demographic for social networking, with the community sites they want most."
The ANTHEM platform provides a web-like, media-rich interface to give Virgin Mobile customers a fully branded and customized mobile version of their favorite social networking services that is surprisingly functional and easy to use. No matter which social networking provider one visits, the consistently simple user interface makes it easy to view photos, send and receive messages, post comments, search profiles and more.
For Virgin Mobile's engaged and youthful customer base, social networking is an area of strong and growing interest. In a proprietary survey among Virgin Mobile customers under the age of 35, 63% said they have a profile posted on one or more social networking sites. In querying the customers who use these sites, Virgin Mobile found that, while Facebook and MySpace are the most populated, 43% of respondents identify other sites as their favorites to visit -- with 16% naming Xanga and 5% specifically listing Blackplanet.com. Most, 92%, said they visit their favorite social networking sites at least once a day with one-third, 32%, spending between 15-30 minutes, and 14% on more than 90 minutes a day.
Pricing to access this broad social networking platform and multiple sites is constructed to create maximum flexibility. Customers can choose to pay by the day or by the month: $1.00 provides use for 24 hours with a cap of half a megabyte of data, and $3.99 provides access for one month with a cap of five megabytes of data. The Java application is available to Virgin Mobile owners of the Cyclops, the Slider Sonic and the Switch_Back handsets at this time, with plans to extend the platform to a wider variety of phones in the future.