If you use the stock browser on the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S4, you may notice the strange button in the corner. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Lumen Toolbar. It shipped on the S4, but Sprint is just now detailing it as part of the carrier's Pinsight Media+ mobile advertising program. You know those obnoxious toolbars that programs are always trying to cram on your PC? This is the same thing, but your carrier is doing it to you.
Just a quick tap, and the Lumen Toolbar provides "rich, unparalleled opportunities for brand advertisers to engage Sprint customers." Emphasis added. The toolbar contains various shortcuts for sharing and searches – basically the kind of stuff your phone already does quite well without some toolbar taking up space. Don't be fooled by the carefully crafted PR-speak – these buttons are ads (and why one of them is an old Android Market icon, I cannot say). The video introduction points out advertisers can pay to get premium placement in the toolbar, or in the added services list, or even buy a banner ad in the toolbar.
This thing seems like a totally shameless money grab, and Sprint customers should be upset. As if this wasn't enough, the Lumen Toolbar is coming to more Android devices throughout 2013. Note that Sprint isn't making the toolbar, it just partners with Pinsight Media, which does make it.
Sprint's positive attitude about this addition might be the most annoying part. I rolled my eyes so hard while watching the video I thought they were going to fall out. There were already plenty of reasons to use a different browser, and this is just one more. Full (smarmy) PR below.
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), July 08, 2013 - Sprint today announced the launch of the Lumen™ Toolbar, which allows Sprint customers to intuitively and easily share content, find deals and discover new apps to download. The robust mobile browser extension platform offers high-profile exposure for developers to promote their apps and rich, unparalleled opportunities for brand advertisers to engage with Sprint customers. The Lumen Toolbar is currently available on Samsung Galaxy S™ 4 and is scheduled to arrive on numerous Android™-powered smartphones throughout 2013.
The Lumen Toolbar is a linchpin of Sprint’s Pinsight Media+™ mobile advertising program, giving brand managers a number of advertising options. Advertisers can sponsor a time-defined button on the toolbar, enabling users with one-click access into the sponsor’s content. Brands can also add their own button in the toolbar’s extensive catalog and allow users to place their button on their own personalized versions of the toolbar. Finally, there is also traditional static banner and rich media advertising inventory available within the Lumen Toolbar, enabling ads to be displayed directly above each user’s toolbar. A video demonstration of the Lumen Toolbar is available online.
“The Lumen Toolbar is intuitive to use and customize, so customers naturally adopt it as part of their routines,” said Kevin McGinnis, vice president of Product Platforms and Services at Sprint. “For developers and service providers seeking distribution opportunities, the Lumen Toolbar provides tremendous visibility and contextually relevant discoverability directly from the browser. The browser extension framework makes it easy for developers to integrate their apps, website or APIs.”
The Lumen Toolbar is powered by Skyfire’s Horizon browser extension platform, which adds value and ease-of-use to the mobile Internet for users and creates key opportunities for incremental revenue for mobile operators. It rides on top of the native browser on Sprint smartphones and recommends new apps to download. It also finds deals and content that are contextually recommended to Sprint customers based on the page they’re currently browsing. Sprint customers can disable the toolbar or elect not to permit analytics to be collected through the toolbar at their discretion.
“Sprint has been aggressive and first to market with numerous mobility innovations over the years,” said Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck. “We’re delighted that the Pinsight Media+ team has chosen to partner with Skyfire to promote radically improved browsing for their customers, while unlocking new opportunities for brand advertisers to reach them in a targeted, personalized, non-intrusive manner.”