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NPR iPhone app not made by NPR

NPR Mobile application iconThere is an application available for iPhones that lets you listen to content from members stations of National Public Radio.

It's called NPR Mobile, and it's a very slick app. It allows you to search for NPR stations near your iPhone location (uses GPS to triangulate where you are) and you can chime in using a set of headphones to listen to all of your favorites shows via cellular network.

This is a big step forward for news delivery on a mobile device. The iPhone makes up a large portion of the smartphone market currently, but a similar app could have just as easily been built for other platforms like Nokia's Symbian, Google Android, or RIM's Blackberry.

The curious case about this particular app is that it wasn't built by NPR – they didn't even contract it out. It was built by a software engineer named Bradley Flubacher who, according to his blog, built it simply "To learn how to program the iPhone." I say NPR caught a big break.

During many of our workshops we express the importance of mobile technology as an incipient medium for news delievery, but very few publications are doing much about it. In our workshops we teach about creating a mobile version of your Web site, but that is about as far as we go.

The mobile market is just getting started, and no one doubts it is going to be huge. People LOVE their cell phones. It's the one piece of technology that is with them all the time. A study last year by Nortel Networks Corp found that more people said they would rather go 24 hours without their wallet than their cell phone. In fact, it may even replace the wallet one day. This could be profound for the news industry. Keeping people informed is our business, and here is a device that is with people all the time.

The current crop of news-delivery iPhone apps – not to mention the Blackberry – is pretty thin. And those that do exist are nothing more than duplications of what they already offer in a mobile Web site. If the news industry is to take advantage of this new medium it has to start thinking seriously about ways to innovate and not just deliver the news on a mobile platform.

NPR, CBS and American University partnered to do just that in one novel approach. During the inauguration the group set out to create an iPhone app that would allow ordinary people to submit photo, audio and text reports on how they were attending the inauguration festivities. The feed was sent out to http://inaugurationreport.com which contained their report and the location that report was submitted from. A great example of citizen journalism in a mobile platform.

Inauguration Report applciation screen shot

The Inauguration Report app for the iPhone can be downloaded here.

The NPR Mobile application for the iPhone can be downloaded here.

Update: Links to more apps

Mashable has a great list of news related iPhone apps: http://mashable.com/2009/01/27/free-news-iphone-apps/

Thanks to http://10000words.net for the info.