CNN Offers One Definition For ‘What Is Mobile?’

CNN iPhone App Video

Last month, we asked if the iPad was a mobile device. And, trust us, it’s not as straightforward as you might think. After all, what makes a device mobile? Is it screen size? The ability to make phone calls? Or, maybe 3G? We caught up with CNN’s VP of Mobile Louis Gump, who offered a whole different perspective.

Yesterday, Gump was at Mobile Future Forward, a one-day event in Seattle, where he participated in a panel on the “Future of Content, Engagement, and Monetization.” Afterward, we asked Gumpwhether CNN considers the iPad a mobile device. To date, CNN has not launched an iPad app, but has optimized its website to work on the device, which primarily consisted of converting videos from Flash.

The iPad and plethora of tablets coming out this fall are prompting content owners, like CNN, to address long-standing right’s issues. For instance, should MobiTV, which has the right to stream content to mobile phones, also be able to stream videos to the iPad? Gump: “This is a similar evolution to what took place on mobile phones. FLO TV, MobiTV (and others) all had to figure out how to secure rights, and now it is happening again with tablets.” He said it may be easier this time with companies becoming more flexible as new devices come to market; however, it still remains an on-going debate. On the most extreme end, some content owners view the iPad as a substitute for cable television, and would like to charge more for content sold on tablets. (Read our explanation here for a look at how Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is pushing the debate forward.)

So, what does CNN believe?

Gump would not disclose how contracts are structured with third-parties, but offered this statement: Laptops are more like PCs than mobile phones, and iPads are more like mobile phones than like laptops. While screen size and wireless-connectivity are two major points, he argues the biggest point of difference is convenience. Tablets offer continuous connectivity. Users typically turn off their laptop between usages while on the go, but iPads stay on all day, like a phone. “You are at the airport, you pull it out, and you use it. It’s completely about convenience.”


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