CNN Opens Up on the Mobile Web

 New CNN US mobile site has been around forever and has always been one of the best mobile news sites. It’s both deep and wide with in-depth hard news coverage and many soft news sections like Sports, Business, Health, Politics, Entertainment and Technology, plus local weather forecasts for anywhere in the world.

The rub is that you can only use though one of CNN’s partner carriers. If I go to there using the built-in browser on my T-Mobile or Boost Mobile phone it works without problems. But if I’m using Opera Mini on these phones I get an ugly “Forbidden Your client is not allowed to access the requested object” message. The same thing happens using a mobile emulator on the PC or the N95’s built in browser over WiFi or if your mobile carrier doesn’t have an agreement with CNN.

Finally! CNN has launched a new US localized mobile web site that can be used from any US carrier. The new CNN site is and it has most of the same stories and images as the carrier exclusive version. A few sections (Science/Space, Law and Education) are missing, replaced by new Living and Funny News sections as partial compensation. Edit: A Reader found “Space” and “Science” under “Technology” and “Law” under “US”, thanks Kim.

A few things are not quite right with the new site though. The Sports section doesn’t work at all in the new version, bringing up the familiar Forbidden… message and if you go to using Opera Mini you will be redirected to CNN’s international mobile edition ( with the weather forecast defaulting to Oslo. This is because Opera Mini is a proxy based browser and the proxy servers are in Norway.
CNN Sport's However Opera is sending the user’s original IP address in the de facto standard X-Forwarded-For header so CNN should be able to figure out where an Opera Mini user really is and deliver the appropriate content. Travelers and expatriates would probably also like to be able to choose a specific localized version of the site something that seems to be impossible with CNN. I prefer the way Yahoo handles localization, brings up a version localized based on your IP, and Yahoo uses Mini’s X-Forwarded-For header to deliver the correct local version, and you can also get to a country specific version by prepending the country code to the url. For example, loads the US version and loads the Indian edition anywhere in the world. The only exception is China, where Yahoo uses the url,

All quibbling aside, it’s good to see CNN finally embracing the open mobile web. The day of carrier exclusive sites is hopefully numbered. Now that mobile web advertising is taking off, it really doesn’t benefit publishers like CNN to restrict their audience to a tiny subset of the world’s mobile users. Unless, of course, the carriers are willing to make up the publisher’s lost advertising revenue in exclusive licensing fees, which seems unlikely.

Mobile CNN: (xhtml-mp) Content: **** Usability: XXXX

Related on WapReview:

CNN Doesn’t”Get” Mobile

New CNN International Site

7 thoughts on “CNN Opens Up on the Mobile Web

  1. Has anyone found a workaround/fix for the problem? I have Opera Mobile 10 and every time I go to I get the cnnmobile international site. What I want is the United States site, as I am in the US. How can I force it to give me the US version of the site?

  2. Mobileguy,

    I haven’t heard of the CNN mobile Symbian app and a little Googing didn’t find it. Do you have a link?


  3. I found the Space and Science sections under the Technology category, and Law is under the US category.

  4. Why do you say that Bob? Have you actually ever used Opera Mini? I find it far, far better than the built in browsers on my phones in terms of speed, rendering quality and ease of use. Opera Mini can handle almost any site on the web, the phone browser is limited to small mobile sites.

    The latest Opera Mini was downloaded one million times in 10 days, it is the most popular download on and the most popular mobile Java application ever according to Sun. A lot of people seem to think Opera Mini is pretty good.

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