Home U.S. Government in Your Pocket: White House Launches iPhone App

U.S. Government in Your Pocket: White House Launches iPhone App

…Before the Mobile Website!

The White House announced the release of a new White House iPhone app via a late-night blog post on WhiteHouse.gov. Included in the mobile application are features like news items, photos, blog posts, videos, and even live video streaming. That’s right – live video. According to White House blogger Dave Cole, the app lets users watch public events like speeches and press briefings in real time using their mobile device. Next week’s State of the Union address by President Obama will kick off this effort, delivering live video of the speech to anyone running the free application on their Apple iPhone or iPod Touch.

The White House App

This downloadable mobile application (iTunes link) is the first of its kind to be released by the current administration… that is, unless you count the Obama campaign’s iPhone application, which offered mobilized access to campaign news, media and events prior to the election. The Obama administration is notable for the way it’s embraced technology, using everything from YouTube for weekly “fireside chats” to wikis for recruiting purposes. They even licensed the transition site Change.gov using Creative Commons, which allowed a company called Cerado the ability to translate the site into a Web-based iPhone application.

What’s most interesting about this new mobile effort is the fact that the iPhone application was launched prior to the mobile-ready version of WhiteHouse.gov’s website. While that effort is “coming soon,” says the blog post, it won’t be available in time for Obama’s next presidential address, and there are no details as to whether or not it will offer any sort of video features, much less live streaming.

Of course it’s important that the government’s efforts aren’t iPhone-only, but it’s clear that the Apple platform is an important part of the administration’s efforts to reach its constituents – especially the young, tech-savvy mobile users who some say helped Obama win the election.

Mobile Web’s Explosive Growth

Also of interest: The White House states that mobile Web use has grown over 100% in the last year in the U.S., and higher worldwide. That’s putting it mildly. Over the past year, we’ve heard from numerous companies and analyst firms regarding the explosive growth of the mobile web. For example, in spring of 2009, Opera reported a 157% increase in usage of their Opera Mini web browser and a 319% increase in year-over-year data traffic. AdMob released a report in October revealing a 19% increase year-over-year in iPhone/iPod Touch data traffic alone, and last month, analyst firm IDC predicted over a billion mobile web users by 2010. Ignoring the mobile masses at this point would be a mistake and it’s clear that the White House understands that. Notes the blog post: “this is just the first step for WhiteHouse.gov’s mobile platform.”

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