CNN emphasizes community with iPhone app
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 iReport.com, 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 iReport.com’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.)