Blog Post

Obama for iPhone

Billed as “your official, comprehensive connection to the heart of Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s campaign,” Obama’s campaign today released an official election application for the iPhone and iPod touch. This marks the first sanctioned application release from either side in the American presidential race, though several unofficial apps of varying utility have previously been available.

It’s immediately clear upon launch that the application was not rushed, but was actually developed with care and attention to detail.  The UI is clean and attractive (despite the Windows-ish color scheme) and the action is snappy.  It was clearly developed with two key aims in mind: promote all things Obama and encourage you to do the same.

The app is innovative in that it goes beyond being simply an information delivery tool.  Instead it uses the unique capabilities of the iPhone platform to attempt to make campaigners out of anyone who downloads it.  The first option you’re presented with is “Call Friends,” which searches your contact list and prioritizes your friends and associates based on whether or not their state is considered a key battleground.  You can then call them directly from the list to attempt to sway their vote.

Need ammunition? What if, for instance, your old Ohioan college roommate isn’t about Obama’s stance on seniors and social security and would like you to explain it to him?  With the “Issues” menu, you can toe the party line without even knowing it ahead of time.

All the media you can swallow regarding the Obama campaign is also only a few taps away, complete with a convenient absence of counterpoint material.  To be fair, the app never claims balance, nor should it, considering the source.

Now that the first shots have been fired in the war to win voters by way of their most beloved handheld electronic device, it’ll be interesting to see if the McCain campaign fires back.  Of course, it’s always possible that they’ll spin it as yet another example of Obama’s elitism and leave it at that.

What do you think?  Brilliant campaign move or merely preaching to the converted?

10 Responses to “Obama for iPhone”

  1. Hello. I think that this post was genius. Whoever came up with the idea for “Obama for iPhone” I think that it was a very idea to do. I’m very interested in politics ever since of Obama and McCain ran. I think it is going to be a good year! The iPhone idea was just a bonus!!!

  2. Darrell Etherington

    Wow, Jonathan, color me wrong! Seriously though, great work. And thanks for the peek behind the curtain in those links you provide.

    Question is, now that the iPhone NDA is lifted will you be sharing with McCain’s camp? ;)

  3. Hey there,

    I was lead developer on the project. Personally I’m really thrilled with “It’s immediately clear upon launch that the application was not rushed, but was actually developed with care and attention to detail.”

    This was actually a high speed sprint project! From start to finish the application took ~3 weeks! You can read more on my blog or on Raven’s (project leader)

  4. … and not to get too political, but McCain said in an interview a few weeks back, “I’m a computer illiterate who needs my wife for all the help I can get.”

    And that’s the old school internet. Imagine John McCain messing with an iPhone :p

  5. Brilliant idea and after downloading and playing with it – brilliantly done!
    Nice work by the Obama staff. These guys are ahead of their time when it comes to the political game.

  6. It’s not whether you’re preaching to the converted or not. It’s demonstrating that you’ll use every available avenue to reach what is considered to be Obama’s strongest demographic – young, college aged voters.