Behold your phone lock screen as branded billboard

One company wants to turn the lock screen into a showcase for brands that specialize in weather, news, and other updated info.

Can your lock screen act as a virtual billboard of sorts?

Conduit has designed a lock screen that allows businesses to place their own widgets front and center on the phone. Conduit

That's what one company is banking on with a new product it plans to unveil in the coming weeks. Web and mobile software company Conduit has over the past month experimented with a custom Android lock screen that can hop directly into different applications. The next step is to offer branded lock screens built around companies that deliver constantly updated information such as news, sports, or weather.

The result: a lock screen carrying the brand of a sports network or news channel that users would see every time they power their phone on -- a valuable spot any company would love to get its hands on.

"This is real prime real estate," said Ori Lavie, vice president of Conduit's mobile strategy. "The brand gets much higher exposure, which drives more traffic to their app or Web site."

Conduit wouldn't comment on what potential partners would be announced during its official launch, but said it would be companies that deliver services like weather updates, stock quotes, or sports scores. That could mean a sports score-centered lock screen for someone who chooses the sports option.

But Conduit is just one of many custom lock screens to have evolved from the static swipe-to-unlock feature in most smartphones. Apple, for instance, has added direct jumps into the camera and to emails and messages from the lock screen, while HTC has long offered a lock screen that could jump to different apps. There are also several custom lock screens that can be downloaded on Google Play.

The current LockView Lockscreen app from Conduit offers a couple of different features, including the ability to jump directly into a phone call, camera, or the most recent open apps depending on where you place your finger. There's also an option on the bottom left corner to change the ringer settings based on a few swipes, while the top offers a swipe-to-search function.

On the app, Conduit left the middle of the screen blank for potential brand partners, but Lavi noted users could add their own widgets in the meantime.

Aside from the beta version it has released, which has its shares of glitches and lag time, Conduit has no intention of offering a full lock screen on its own, instead preferring to partner with known brands.

The full version, which would include a brand partner, would run much smoother, Lavie said.

Conduit's selling proposition to companies is its ability to get its lock screen on most versions of Android. Lavi said the company plans to have its lock screen available to as much as 80 percent of Android phones, with many older versions or lower-end models left out.

Thankfully, the lock screen won't be a true billboard. For now, Conduit won't allow companies to run advertisements on the lock screen. If a company wants to offer this feature, it will need to offer up something practical to the user, like updated scores or stock quotes. The company promotes itself and its app through services, rather than just a basic ad.

Conduit wants to generate further revenue off the service, but Lavie declined to comment on those plans, noting only that it wouldn't include advertising to clutter up the customers' lock screens.

Tags:
Mobile
About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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