CBS EyeMobile for iPhone
Launched September 2008
Right before the App Store first went live in 2008, I began creating CBS EyeMobile for iPhone as a personal side-project. The goal was to design an iPhone app that enabled users to upload, view, and comment on videos and photos posted by other “citizen journalists”. CBS EyeMobile iPhone became the first iPhone app launched by one of the big 3 US television networks.
The project ended up consuming most of my evenings and weekends in July and August of 2008. Treemo Labs, where I was working at the time as a Flash developer, had built a citizen journalism web site with a WAP (feature phone) web-companion for CBS News called CBS Eye Mobile. I wanted to see this platform realized on iPhone and to advance our company into the then new frontier of mobile app development.
Only, after I had completed the app concept and nearly completed implementation, did our usually very opportunistic CEO scheduled a meeting with the Directors of CBS News Mobile. We pitched them on the idea of an iPhone app for the CBS EyeMobile network and they took it. At the time there were only 9 apps in the news category for iPhone, and none of the big-3 networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) had a single app in the Apple App Store. We were about to make CBS the first of the three. When the app launched in September, Apple gave it front and center placement in the App Store and users began to poor in to the network.
TUAW reviewed the app when it launched in September and said, “While the quality of [citizen] reporting might be somewhat iffy, anything has to be better than the talking heads that the networks hire.” We laughed and just hoped for the best. However, for CBS, citizen journalism did not last as a part of their network offerings past 2009.
Nevertheless, the app was the beginning of a partnership that is still very active today. (My team at Treemo Labs currently makes nearly every iOS and Android app offered for CBS News and their various shows, such as 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, and CBS This Morning, among others.)