CNN emphasizes community with iPhone app

September 29, 2009

Add CNN to the list of news outlets that sees at least some of its future playing out on Apple’s iPhone. The Time Warner-owned Cable News Network plans to tell the world on Tuesday about its new $1.99 iPhone application. (Expect the press release at 8 a.m. ET). They’re charging for it, betting that people will pay for news. That’s a bet that some folks — such as News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch — have been willing to make. Now CNN is making a similar bet.

(PS, we were going to hold this until midnight because it was embargoed. That embargo has been broken, so bombs away.)

I’ll do a rip-and-grab from the press release to highlight its features, but its most interesting one is the ability it gives its viewers/readers to be the amateur reporters in the field that more news organizations are courting:

For the first time on a mobile device, the CNN App provides a direct gateway to, allowing users to browse user-generated content; register, sign-in to their account or sign on as a guest to capture and instantly upload user-generated photos and videos (with the iPhone 3GS). Users also can browse’s latest “assignments,” asking the community to weigh in on local and national news stories.

Here is another feature that accomplishes the dual tasks of promoting the news outlet as well as the reader:

  • Users can share stories via email, SMS and Twitter, as well as Facebook Connect by posting a story directly to their wall.

The “app” adds CNN to the list of news organizations that are betting on increasing consumption of their news by people touting mobile devices. So far, these include The Associated Press, Bloomberg and The New York Times. There also is The Wall Street Journal, whose ultimate boss, News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, already has made clear that you’re going to pay for the news that you get on your smartphones, unless you already buy the print edition AND the online edition.

My question: How, in the end, will CNN and its brethren turn this into an opportunity to make some money? Can mobile advertising bring in the cash? Or is mobile bound to remain a mostly promotional tool, no matter how many people use it?

Meanwhile, here are the other features, slightly rewritten and shortened from the press release copy:

  • Users can flick through news stories across categories. Additionally, when the device is rotated horizontally, stories can be flipped through quickly.
  • Each story features bulleted highlights above the full article, designed to satisfy mobile “snackers,” allowing them to scan through the latest stories, as well as meet the needs of users who want the whole story.
  • Local news, weather and traffic based on user’s actual location or the ability to select a specific location.
  • Ability to “follow” a story or topic: As CNN publishes breaking news alerts or new stories related to a chosen topic, the app will push the updates to the device.
  • “Saved” content, which enables users to access text stories even when they’re offline.

(Reuters Photo: Picture Spanish director Pedro Almodovar… as a CNN iPhone app.)


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Here’s a fix to the health care system per iPhone App – Conservative Talking Points:Tort Reform – Implement “Loser Pays” since plaintiffs don’t have any risk and can take a free shot at a doctor. But doctors are winning about 85% of these cases and half of these cases are frivolous. (Source: Inside Tucson Business – Aug 2009)Interstate Health Insurance – If individuals in one state could buy health insurance from companies regulated by other states, it would create competition that would force premiums down. It would also let individuals decide how much coverage they want. (Source: NPR – Jul 2005)Remove State Mandates – Millions of uninsured Americans live in states that impose numerous mandates — there are about 1,900 mandates nationwide — and those restrictions make health insurance unaffordable. (Source: Wall Street Journal – Oct 2008)Health Savings Accounts – HSAs offer Americans a new coverage option that give them a new choice in coverage configuration, personal control of their health care spending, and the path to own their own health care plans. (Source: Heritage Foundation – Apr 2004)Removal Of Illegal Alien Health Care Costs – Enforcing our nation’s immigration laws would save billions every year since Illegal aliens consume $3.7 Billion annually in Medicare and Medicaid benefits since 40% of illegal aliens are on U.S. Welfare (Federation for American Immigration Reform)

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[…] Associated Press did not. That annoyed at least one reporter, Reuters’ Robert MacMillan, who wrote, “We were going to hold this until midnight because it was embargoed. That embargo has been […]

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I phone is overrated

Posted by Micah Kilton | Report as abusive

“…by people touting mobile devices.”Hmmm. Sounds like somebody doesn’t know what “tout” means. I think you meant “tote.” Perhaps a dictionary is in order. They’re really quite easy to operate, you know.

Posted by MIchael | Report as abusive

This app will change the way how news is received and/or delivered. So much potential for this app.

Posted by cheap phones | Report as abusive

News, updates and more can now be accessed in a snap. A great avenue to unwind after a hard day’s work. Hmmm, seems like this direct gateway to, allowing users to browse user-generated content makes one ask for more: bulk messaging of opinion is part of it.

Posted by sms gateways | Report as abusive