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CNN, Time roll out mobile app for 2012 political conventions

CNN and Time Inc. have launched a new mobile application that features 24/7 breaking news updates and alerts from journalists covering the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

The CNN-Time Convention Floor Pass app lets users browse daily analysis and commentary, as well as get early access to polls, photos and videos. The app was developed by Carnival Labs Limited.

"The CNN-Time Convention Floor Pass is our first event-driven application so it?s somewhat experimental," said Matt Dornic, senior director of public relations at CNN Worldwide. 

"The outcome of this launch and the lessons we learn from Floor Pass will help shape our mobile strategy in the future," he said. 

"If the app is a huge success, we may consider rolling out variations of Floor Pass for other events, conferences and festivals in the future." 

Live coverage
The app is available for free download for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

In addition to mobile apps, there is also a mobile-optimized site.

The app can be downloaded for convention attendees in Charlotte and Tampa and will provide non-attendees a virtual ticket to the convention hall floors.

By selecting a section from the sidebar, users can choose whether to dive deep with up to 50 stories from the app?s news feed or visit the app?s Top 5, a digital front page showcasing the five stories driving the news each day.

"As a news organization, we automatically have an advantage when it comes to the business of delivering news and information," Mr. Dornic said.

"In addition to sharing Floor Pass through our own outlets and traditional PR, we will promote the app through signage, on flat screens and a giant 8-foot tablet inside the CNN Grills in Tampa and Charlotte," he said. 

"We will also use street teams to encourage convention attendees to download the app."

The mobile app will also be promoted during a special morning edition of CNN?s Political Gut Check.

Each day of the conventions, Time will release a cover of the day and corresponding cover story featuring news and analysis from the conventions. According to the company, this is the first time in its history that the magazine has released a daily cover image.

The app also features a guide section that lets users browse a calendar of events and parties and other convention activities.

The app is a great way for users to stay in touch with up-to-date news.

The app also features a social tab, which directs users to a dashboard of election Twitter buzz that can be filtered by convention-related hash tags.

Additionally, Twitter and foursquare users can tweet and check-in from directly within the app.

"CNN has been No. 1 in the category of mobile news for more than five consecutive years so it?s long been a significant piece of our overall digital strategy," Mr. Dornic said. 

"As we?ve watched our mobile traffic rise to more than 21 million unique visitors per month and our total app downloads break the 22 million mark, we?ve placed greater emphasis on mobile," he said. 

"We know that our viewers and users? busy lifestyles don?t afford them the luxury of watching the news on television each night. They are active and educated people who need to be informed of breaking news and global events wherever, however and whenever it?s convenient for them ? and mobile enables us to deliver on that demand."  

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York