Page last updated at 00:30 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 01:30 UK

Obama uses iPhone to win support

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Presidential poiltics meets mobile technology

US Democratic candidate Barack Obama is set to turn the iPhone into a political recruiting tool with an application aimed at getting the vote out.

The software has a "Call Friends" option to help organise contacts in swing states.

A note about the software on Mr Obama's blog said: "This tool is designed to help you become more directly involved in our campaign to change the country."

The free application was developed by volunteers in less than three weeks.

"This really has the potential to help the campaign," said Jason Grigsby, one of the project leaders.

"The use of mobile technology to get out the vote and get people involved is a way for the grass roots to really make an impact."

In a recent blog entry the campaign wrote: "With only 33 days left, it's more important than ever to call your friends and family to make sure they are registered and voting for Barack."

The blog also said that it hoped the "Call Friends" feature would "generate thousands of additional personal contacts" - that would then be turned into votes.

'New wave'

Other features include making notes on which friends have been called, who they are supporting, and if they need a reminder on election day.

The website said the total amount of calls the application made were tallied but no information left the phone, so the privacy of friends and users were protected.

iPhone app
The Obama camp has been praised for how it has used technology

The application also passes on up-to-date news from the campaign, plus video, photos and talking points to help convince friends to vote for the candidate.

Raven Zachary, another co-developer, told the BBC: "The iPhone is one mobile platform and there are millions of voters who don't have the iPhone.

"But we are at the beginning of a new wave of mobile technology and we are seeing with the Obama campaign how he uses technology. This will become the norm moving forward."

Declan McCullagh, chief political correspondent at news site CNET told the BBC: "It's a pretty slick iPhone application.

"Having your friends sorted by battleground states is something I haven't seen any other politician come up with before. This is a glimpse of the future of high-tech politicking."

raven zachary
"This is an indicator of how mobile technology can impact political change," said Raven Zachary

Jonathan Wight, another developer who worked on the project, said he did not believe John McCain's camp would have time to better their efforts.

"It took us less than three weeks and if they haven't started coding already they won't catch up."

Senator Obama has proved a fan of technology in his campaign and made headlines when he announced his choice of Joe Biden for vice-president via a text message.

Both Mr Obama and Mr McCain have turned to the web to raise money, to YouTube to air adverts and to Facebook to raise their profiles among the social networking set.

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