If You Don’t Build It, They Won’t Come

Obama iPhone application

With another year or so on my Sprint contract tying me to my trusty old Treo, I missed out on the Obama iPhone application frenzy during the last month of the election.

Politico has a story out this weekend about a panel on campaign technology in which the McCain participants spin the story that it was simply impossible for them to put together something similar because all the tech people supported Obama:

“Memo to self: next time get the co-founder of Facebook on your team,” said McCain-Palin veteran Becki Donatelli. “The CEO of Google was in the Obama commercial. I mean, you don’t get more out front than that.”

Speaking on a panel about the role of technology in the 2008 campaign, Donatelli said the McCain team had plans for using the Internet to reach voters, but ultimately lacked the resources and the personnel to put them into action.

“We’re very jealous. We loved your iPhone application,” she told her co-panelists from the Obama campaign, Joe Rospars and Sam Graham-Felsen, explaining that the McCain campaign had wanted to harness the iPhone for their effort as well. “We had it sketched out. We had it planned and no way to get it done.

A couple of things ought to be mentioned here, however. John McCain’s national campaign co-chair for most of the year was Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay. McCain mentioned her as a potential choice for Secretary of Treasury in one of the presidential debates. The idea that McCain’s campaign was shut out of the world of high-tech should end right there.

But what should really put a nail in the touchscreen of this conceit is that Republican Congressman Ron Paul was on the iPhone with a Web 2.0 application months before the iPhone Software Development Kit was publicly released and the App Store was up and running, with a number of the same features as the Obama application.

Paul iPhone application

Bad enough for McCain’s people to lie about how they couldn’t keep up with Obama because all the competent programmers were on the other side, but they couldn’t even bring themselves to take notice of what Ron Paul had done a year earlier. Surely that would have given them some time to build something.