Enter Walt Mossberg, with iPhone app

May 18, 2009, 1:47 PM UTC

The growing empire that is Walt Mossberg crossed another media border Sunday, invading Apple’s (AAPL) App Store with his own All Things Digital iPhone app.

The “Kingmaker,” as
dubbed Mossberg, is the highest paid reporter at the Wall Street Journal (total 2003 compensation, according to the
New Yorker
: $500,000), which runs three weekly Mossberg-branded columns — two of which he writes.

He also appears weekly on the Fox Business News network, supplements his columns with on-line videos, and with fellow Journal writer Kara Swisher produces and hosts the Journal’s annual D: All Things Digital conference — where industry celebrities appear onstage and unscripted to answer his and Swisher’s questions.

Scheduled guests for D7, which opens in Carlsbad, Calif., on May 26, include Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer, Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz and Palm (PALM) CEO Jon Rubinstein.

The All Things Digital site is an online spinoff of the conference where Mossberg and Swisher — with their colleagues Peter Kafka and John Paczkowski — cover tech news pretty much around the clock.

The new iPhone app offers all that — “all the posts and columns you get on [the] Web site — including news, product reviews, analysis and video,” according to the promo Swisher published Monday. “Just smaller and cuter.”

Except sometimes it doesn’t.  As everybody involved in the project should have known, Although there are lots of video clips archived and integrated into stories, the iPhone doesn’t know what to do with Adobe (ADBE) Flash video, so while you can search for  — and read the transcript of — what was probably the last joint appearance we’ll ever see of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at D5, what you get instead of the video is the iPhone’s little blue cube.

But who can really complain? The app is free, packed with cool stuff, and available for download here.

CORRECTION: The original version of this post triggered several corrective e-mails from people associated with the ATD app, including Mossberg himself.

“Of course our app plays videos,” he wrote.  “Scores and scores and scores of videos. It was a major priority, and we are using a back end that translates Flash to an iPhone-friendly format. In the specific case you cited, the Jobs-Gates videos (and all other D conference videos) they play perfectly in the app. This was constantly tested and a major requirement before our release. Just this morning, I was easily able to play the video accompanying Peter Kafka’s latest post. Can you please correct, prominently?”

In a second e-mail, however, Mossberg adds:

“Just noticed that your screen shot is of the internal web browser — essentially the guts of Safari — that our app, like many others, uses for some purposes (in our case, for instance, search results). But the main portion of the app — the presentation of the posts and columns and the dedicated video section — does indeed play video fine.”

So you can play the Jobs-Gates video, if you know where to look for it in the D5 video folder. But if you search for it, it won’t play.

Mossberg also asked for this correction: “Oh, and your post makes it sound like I personally  ‘launched’ this app. It was launched by ATD, not me, and ATD is jointly and co-equally run by me and Kara Swisher. None of our materials say that it was launched by me, nor did you ask if that was true. It is not.”

Duly noted.

Mossberg has sent another note: “By the way, I write 100% of every column that carries my byline: Personal Technology and Mossberg’s Mailbox. There is a third column, The Mossberg Solution, that I edit, but it clearly and prominently carries the byline and image of its author, Katherine Boehret, who works for me. It says ‘edited by Walter S. Mossberg,’ which means exactly that.”

And all this time I thought the letters to Mossberg’s mailbox were written by his readers!

Finally (we hope), John Dowdell of Adobe offers this correction of one of Mossberg’s corrections: “Serverside routines don’t ‘translate’ SWF files so much as ‘extract parts of’ SWF files. The Adobe Flash Player includes high-performance video codecs (Sorenson Sparc, On2 VP6, H.264, eg), and it’s possible to make such video content play on a locked-down iPhone.”