November 28, 2014

MLB.Com’s At Bat Expands Ballpark with BlackBerry 10 Support

Research in Motion has a lot riding on the upcoming release of its next generation BlackBerry smartphones, the BlackBerry 10, but it now gains support from an important app market from which it has in the past been a virtual non-player, sports.

RIM is expected to unveil its latest smartphone next week at an event in New York City showing both a pair of handsets as well as its latest iteration of its operating system as the company seeks to halt the strong sales and user erosion that it has experienced in the past two years as new generations of smartphones have soared past it in popularity and sales.

The BlackBerry has long been viewed as a solid enterprise tool but was sadly lacking in apps and features that would help it expand out of its business centric sales, but this deal could be the start of a major change in that perspective.

Queue At Bat, one of the most popular apps available for smartphones, and one that seems to be the top app for some time for iPhone users. While pricing and availability details are not yet available, MLB.com has said that the 2013 version will be available by Opening Day, or rather Opening Night, March 31, 2013.

At Bat is the official mobile app for Major League Baseball and has a huge array of features ranging from Winter Meetings news to analysis of what clubs are doing. Roster information, game scores, both this year and last are available as well as watching games and even for premium members, viewing classic games that are in baseball’s archives.

This is a strong move for RIM and should help it gain at least some credence in the consumer market space, helping break down the barrier from the enterprise into the bigger overall market. It will be interesting to see what other apps are available at announcement because even as popular as this one is, there is a lot of room for growth in this space by the company.

Friday Grab Bag: Bannister returns, Big Ten embraces Android

A sip of soda cost Ronaldinho $1.57m?
Apparently drinking the wrong soda can be costly as Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho found out. He appeared at a press conference for his new team, Atletico Mineiro sipping a Pepsi, which happens to be one of the teams’ sponsors.

However Coca-Cola happens to be one of Ronaldinho’s sponsors, with a deal valued at $1.57 million. Apparently the powers that be at Coke’s headquarters were less than pleased and canceled his contract.


Big Ten moves to Android

The Big Ten Network has expanded its mobile reach with the release of BTN2Go for Android. The app, which enables subscribers to the Big Ten Network via their cable supplier, to view a huge range of sports on smartphones, tablets and via the web.

They will be able to watch live feed of all of the networks programming that includes more than 40 football games and 100 men’s basketball games among the hundreds of programs. The app is available at Google Play.

2/3 of new mobile buyers opt for smartphones, Nielsen says
The latest newsletter from Nielsen Wire shows that the in the second quarter of 2012 smartphone growth has continued unabated. Currently 54.9% of all US mobile phone subscribes now use a smartphone as of its June 2012 study.

Two out of every three new phone purchases were a smartphone during the last three months. According to the survey Android is the operating system of choice with 51.8% of all users adopting that platform while 34.3% use an iPhone from Apple.

Despite past results RIM Exec takes upbeat view
Research in Motion has seen things go from bad to worse as it reports losses, declining customer base and delays in its next generation smartphone, a product that it is hoping will bring it out of the doldrums that surround the company.

However there is a light cutting through the clouds according to Frank Boulben, RIM’s chief marketing officer said that the late delivery of its BlackBerry 10, after the important Holiday shopping season, will actually benefit the company as it will allow carriers to prepare and allow it to have the spotlight to itself.


Microsoft/Motorola Patent tiff on hold

Microsoft and Motorola have decided to wait until the hearing over Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations is heard later this year before continuing their patent lawsuits against each other.

While this will slow the lawsuit issue to a degree it does not affect any potential ruling by the International Trade Commission on two complaints involving the two companies, according to a piece in Electronista.


Microsoft is also aiming at Apple- Shock

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has said that it is a new day at Microsoft and that its Surface tablet will be taking on all comers, including Apple, vowing not to leave any market segments uncontested to its rival.

According to an exclusive in CRN Ballmer said that the company and its partners had ceded some areas in the high tech space to Apple and its innovative ways. Areas that Microsoft plans to now more fiercely compete include the consumer cloud and in the area of hardware/software innovation, he said.

It is interesting that one of the reasons Apple is still around as a company is because Microsoft invested $150 million in 1997, a deal that eventually netted Microsoft almost 19 million shares of Apple stock for an average cost of about $9 per share. Microsoft has since sold the stock.

NBC has an Olympic app-if you are a subscriber
NBC Olympics has developed the NBC Olympics Live Extra app that will enable users to watch every event live, which will run to an estimated 3,500 hours of coverage, according to a report from Michael Hiestand in USA Today.

The app will be available for Apple’s iPad and iPhone platforms as well as some Android devices. However NBC will only allow access to viewers who get NBC’s MSNBC and CNBC channels — that’s about 100 million households out of the 114 million total U.S. TV households.

London Olympics salutes Roger Bannister
Roger Bannister, now Sir Robert Bannister, the first man to break the sub-4 minute mile barrier carried the Olympic torch on the track where he broke the record 58 years ago. As part of the relay for the torch as it arrived in London he walked on the track and then handed it off. There is speculation that he will be selected to light the cauldron to start the Olympics.

Tablets continue to erode PC sales
Market research firm Gartner has reported that for the seventh consecutive quarter sales of PCs have continued a trend of anemic growth as demand lessens in favor of tablets. However it notes that economic weakness in both the US and Europe are also contributing to the poor demand.

According to the company sales in the second quarter were 87.5 million units with Hewlett-Packard the market leader followed by Lenovo and Dell.

Social news site Digg sold
Once high flyer Digg, a social news site, was a top destination on the Internet and it saw its valuation numbers soar with its popularity, but as with many popular sites, its appeal waned and viewership fell off as other newer technologies took its place.

The drop appears to now be complete as the site has been sold for $500,000 to Betaworks, which gains the site and its technology, which will be incorporated into a new unit that Betaworks will announce in the future, according to the New York Times.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Judge Kills Patent Suit- Wave of the Future?

One of the many patent lawsuits from around the globe has been canceled by the presiding judge, although this may not end the case. In an Apple/Google lawsuit Judge Richard Posner has entered a tentative order dismissing the case because he believes that neither party can establish relief.

According to Foss Patents, which had previously speculated that this might occur, this is more likely a bigger setback to Google, but that it will take future court cases to see if that is true. One of the more interesting aspects of this ruling is the esteem with which Judge Posner is held in legal circles and his apparent disgust with the two companies and the patent system. I wonder if this is a trend that will continue going forward as judges try to clear up the huge logjam of patent cases?

Android not ready for quad core?
It appears Intel is complaining about the poor performance of the Android operating system when used on devices that feature quad core processors, according to the Android Guys. It seems that the guys at Intel are not so much complaining about the OS but rather the chips that it runs on in the smartphones.

It should be noted of course that virtually all of those chips are made by rivals, and that Intel is just now selling its processors t developers that create smartphones. In addition Intel does not currently offer a quad core in this space.

Will Windows Phone win out?
A recent study by market research firm IDC predicts the demise of the Android phone and the ascendency of the Windows Phone by 2016. The report predicts that Android phones will still be the dominate operating system over tge next 5 years but that its market share will peak this year.

Apple’s iOS operating system is expected to continue to grow, albeit at a slower rate than in the past. The winner over the next five years will be Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, which it claims will gain a 16% market share over the next few years.

Not everybody is on board with this bold prediction however, and a number of pieces have been published questioning the predictions. One that took the time to examine past IDC predictions with the subsequent results was run in The Street.

RIM kills one model of BlackBerry PlayBook
Research in Motion has killed its 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook tablet as the mobile device developer continues to find footing in the new market for connected devices. The company said that while it remains committed to the market overall it would discontinue the 16GB version but would continue to ship the 32GB and 64GB versions. A new generation of tablets is expected from RIM later this year.

Adding insult to injury in Oracle/Google case
A judge has ordered Oracle to pay Google’s legal fees after the outcome of Oracle’s patent and copyright suit against the search giant did not go its way. Apparently Judge William Alsup had told Oracle that if it brought the case to court (it had failed twice before) that it would have to pay Google’s expenses, which apparently ran to $300,000.

Facebook’s app center opens
Facebook has officially opened its App Center and already has 600 apps available for Facebook users. The center is operating system agnostic and so there are apps for Android, iOS and others available. The purpose of the center is to encourage app developers to create programs that use Facebook as its front end, helping it in the mobile space.

Motorola, others violate RF patent?
EETimes is reporting that the International Trade Commission is investigating the use of select RF chips by Motorola Mobility, HTC Corp. and RF Micro Devices. The complaint was brought by Peregrine Semiconductor that claims that chips used by the companies violated its patents.

Mobile Apps in New York this month
If you happen to be in New York City and are interested in mobile technology, specifically mobile apps, then the Mobile App Showdown might be right up your alley. The two day showcase starts the 25th but if you want to vote online for the best app you can go online on June 15th and cast your vote. It should be interesting t see what direction the voting takes.

LinkedIn stops collecting calendar data
It appears that one of the fallouts from LinkedIn’s security breach that led to the loss of 6.5 million passwords was the revelation that the professional networking site had been surreptitiously collecting data from the private calendars of its members, at least iPad and iPhone users. The company has now said that it will discontinue that practice.

Asus PadFone hits the States

It looks like the Asus PadFone, a mobile device that combines a smartphone with a tablet to make a platform that can be used as a single product or separated into two distinct devices has finally made it to the US.

Research In Motion takes wraps off Next Generation BlackBerry Platform

As Research In Motion struggles to retain relevancy in the smartphone market that it helped pioneer the company has started delivering a prototype version of its Blackberry 10 smartphone and development tools to developers at its BlackBerry World conference.

The company hopes that the device, along with the new tools for the development of apps for the platform will help revive its fortunes which have waned quite a bit in recent years that have included top management turnover and financial losses.

To help spur on development the company is promising that all of the developers at the conference will receive a prototype when the show is over. Better yet to developers the company has apparently promised that developers will receive $10,000 for top flight apps in their first year in the market.

The move to create a fuller ecosystem for the next generation smartphone is joined by an effort to fuel app growth in China along with subsidiary QNX Software Systems by encouraging university students to develop for both the smartphone and tablet platforms from the company.

The companies are launching a competition that will focus on apps developed in two categories-Mobility Lifestyle Use and Automotive Experience with the winners getting their apps made available at BlackBerry App World and receive internships at what it calls leading Chinese and multinational companies.

While BlackBerry execs claim that the new tools will developers to create apps that will wow the market, and that is exactly what it needs. With Apple still witnessing huge sales for its iPad and iPhone, Android growing strongly in the smartphone space and the pending Windows tablet and smartphone OS releases there is a lot of competition out there.

The company has already taken steps to hire a restructuring firm to examine it future, as it reported that it’s most recent quarter it lost $125 million as revenue dropped 19%. At that time the company said that it was going to increase its focus on the corporate market.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Does Your Computer Have Malware?

FBI helping to block malware
An international hacker has apparently infected and taken control of a host of computers around the globe using an advertising scam to lure people into going to a site that downloaded the malware. When the hackers were arrested the infected systems still operated thanks to the use of government servers that replaced the crooks systems.

That program will be shut down in July and when it does and your system is infected you will find a ‘page not found’ alert when you try to access the internet. You can go here to have your system tested.

Amazon’s Kindle touch 3G is here
Apparently a week earlier than expected the Amazon touch 3G has started shipping out to customers around the world. The $149 e-reader stands apart from other offerings from Amazon and others in that it provides free 3G connectivity on a global basis. Users do not need to sign up for a plan with a carrier or add service on an existing plan to get the wireless capability.

Verizon to introduce multi-device plan this summer
Verizon dropped some good news to owners of multiple devices that can access the Internet wirelessly- it is developing a plan that will allow customers to bundle all of the devices under one roof rather than be forced to have a plan for each device.

This will appeal to people that own both a tablets and a smartphones and can now have all of the data on a single plan. Verizon now joins T-Mobile and Sprint in offering this capability. I suspect that this will be a boon for tablet makers as it removes a barrier to acceptance of these devices.

Smartphone compatible watch draws big interest from investors
The Pebble, a watch that can wirelessly connect to an iPhone has been getting tremendous play from backers via Kickstarter. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter it is a place to raise funding by setting a level that you need and then hoping that enough individuals or larger investment groups promise funding. If you do not reach your goal you get nothing.

Anyway Pebble was seeking $100,000 and so far has raised $1.5 million and growing. Early investors, for a set sum, get a slight discount on one of the watches. The Pebble can support multiple apps and operating systems and communicates with the smartphone via Bluetooth. A similar technology is used in rival products such as the Garmin S3 Golf Watch, among others.

A Crab Computer?

Author Sir. Terry Pratchett has developed computer that runs on ants in several of his Discworld novels, and now it appears that Japanese scientists have taken it one better and developed one that runs on crabs.

Maybe runs on crabs is a bit too inexact, let’s say that live crabs are used as logic gates in the system developed by scientists at Kobe University. I wonder how you go to get a project like this funded? Hey I think crabs are better then microcircuits and they have less gate leakage? Anyway drop over to Gizmag and see if you can figure out what they did.

Research-in-Motion hires firm for restructuring help
RIM, the company that makes the BlackBerry has hired the law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy LLP to develop a restructuring plan for the company according to Yahoo! News. RIM is looking at a variety of options including the possibility that it might sell off some of its assets, developing joint ventures or engage in the very popular patent sell off.


Gemini Devices delivers inexpensive tablets-in UK market

While there is a growing wave of high end tablets, and two more are expected this week, there are alternatives for users that have simpler needs or a constrained pocketbook, and Gemini Devices is looking to meet your needs.

The company offers a series of JoyTAB tablets that include two 10-inch models, a 7-inch and an 8-inch JoyTAB. They have last generation technology for the most part, with single core CPUs and lower resolution screens than what are coming out now. The do have the latest version of the Android operating system, v 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandwich.

With a starting price of around $200 for the 7-inch color model they might make a good solution for users that have simpler needs than the users that want/need all the bells and whistles associated with the iPads and others of that ilk.

Xtex has an even less expensive Tablet-and lackluster reviews
The $200 JoyTAB too rich for your blood? Well there is the $150 Xtex My Tablet 7, a 7-inch color tablet that also uses older technology to hit a low price point. The tablet includes a single core processor and has an 800 x 480 pixel resolution. Chris Burns at Slashgear has taken one for a test ride and warns that you will get what you pay for.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: BlackBerry still in the Red

Research in Motion has revealed in its quarterly earnings call that revenue for its current quarter was down 19%, $4.2 billion compared to $5.2 billion in the previous quarter, for a net loss of $125 million. The results that have resulted in a management shift and a change on corporate focus. For the quarter the company shipped approximately 11.1 million BlackBerry phones and 500,000 tablets.

Out is former co-CEO Jim Balsille who has resigned from the board of directors. Also gone are COO of Global Operations Jim Rowan and CTO David Yach. This coincides with a much stronger emphasis on developing and delivering products focused on the needs of the coporate IT department and the corporate user.

So security, reliability, manageability and messaging services will be the keywords going forward as it seeks to leverage what it views are corporate strengths-enterprise services and devices that handle them. On the flip side areas such as consumer oriented capabilities such as media consumption will be placed on a backburner.

The key to all of this, and for the company to successfully rebound, will hinge on the BlackBerry 10 launch, executives said. The release is due at some point later this year and will finally give the company a high end smartphone to compete with the Android and Apple devices that are already so prevalent. It has been working hard to develop a strong app ecosystem as well.

Nano-SIM standard vote delayed
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) after dueling proposals caused a rift. On one side is Apple, and select allies, and on the other is Nokia, Research in Motion and Motorola Mobility. TechWorld reports that a vote was scheduled last week but was postponed for at least a month due to strong differences between the two camps. The purpose is to develop a new, smaller form factor SIM card, officially called 4FF or fourth form factor.

Slow Tablet sales not Google’s fault?
An interesting piece from the good folks at The Motley Fool, or at least from Evan Niu, ponders why Google has not been able to transfer its tremendous success with its Android operating system in the smartphone market to the Tablet market. There are a variety of reasons mentioned but much of it boils down to the fact that many of the apps are simply slightly altered smartphone apps. It then ponders how Microsoft will do when it makes its big splash with its Windows 8 OS.

Google to sell self-labeled tablets?
An interesting sidebar to the while Android tablets are not doing well is the current rumors that not only will Google sell its own line of tablets, but will do so from its own store. Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the story is that Google will turn to partners, possibly Samsung and Asus to build tablets that Google will then sell under its own label.

In addition to selling under its own label it will also be selling them direct, much like Amazon does with its Kindle offerings and Apple with its iTunes store, among others. It is also expected to subsidize the cost of the tablet, a move that could alienate some of its hardware OEMs.

Google has already gone down the co-branding path once with HTC Nexus One a few years ago. Know anybody that has one? Well Google execs have said that the company plans to double down on Android tablets this year so it will be an interesting time. According to eWeek Google admitted that it has 300 million Android smartphones but only 12 million tablets in customers’ hands.

EU antitrust about to step in on Apple/Motorola Mobility/Microsoft patent issue?
Reuters is reporting that the head of the EU’s antitrust agency said that the group is considering opening an investigation into the patent disputes that are ongoing between Apple, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility.

While the EU has given the Motorola/Google $12.5 billion purchase a thumbs up it also said that it retained the right to investigate ongoing issues including the patent problems that have been a source of considerable litigation.

The group is already investigating if Samsung’s tactics in this area against Apple are a violation of EU antitrust rules. Google has said that it will offer Motorola patents on fair and reasonable terms once the deal is completed.


More Money = Less Entertainment apps on phones

The research firm The Luxury Group has done a study that shows that the wealthier an owner of a smartphone is the less likely to use it to play games or send tweets. It studied app usage among wealthy consumers, ones with income over $150,000.

The news is not really that startling as the users that fell into this area tended to have families and demanding jobs and tended to select apps that met those needs rather than ones for personal entertainment. Still it is sad on which side of this discussion I fall.

Hi-Tech a boon to local bookies
Automation has led to efficiency in so many areas since the days of Henry Ford, and now it looks like local bookies are getting in on the action, according to the New York Times. Rather than stand on street corners singing ‘Luck be a lady tonight’ all they need do these day is set up a web site, post odds and then direct the locals to it to place bets. Must make it real easy at tax time to see what you owe the government, and yes I know that is not where the song was sung in the movie.