Friday Grab Bag: An Apple Phablet in the Works?

ESPN to kill 3d channel
If you are pondering a new flat screen and were thinking that 3D might be nice because eof the in your face action that sports provide you might want to have a second thought as ESPN, probably the greatest advocate for 3D sports, has said that it is killing its 3D channel by years end.

The channel went live in 2010 is dying due to lack of interest according to the sports giant, as reported by The Verge. The company said that low adoption of 3D was a leading cause but that it will be looking at other forms of enhanced broadcasting such as Ultra High Definition television. So maybe look for one of those televisions.

Electronic Arts delivers FIFA 14 for everybody- but one.
Fans of soccer will be happy to learn that EA has announced FIFA 14, the latest in its franchise soccer program and it will support about everybody, PCs, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 but oddly one platform it was on previously, the Wii, is absent.

Depending on the day you looked the reason is that either Wii U does not support the Frostbite engine or that the release of the previous version of the game, FIFA 13, did very poorly. EA has backed down from saying that it will not be developing for Wii, so at least there is some good news here.

Apple to offer two different size iPhones?
Cnet is reporting that it now looks like Apple will be taking a page from Samsung’s book by offering smartphones in multiple screen sizes. According to multiple reports the next generation iPhones will be available in a 4.7-inch model as well as a 5.7-inch model.

The 5.7-inch model would be Apple’s first venture into the phablet market, one that seems to be increasingly popular as the device can double for a small tablet as well as a phone. It has also been reported that Apple is looking at offering it in multiple colors.

New Android flaw discovered
If imitation is the highest form of flattery then Windows has been flattered by the latest Android Trojan which is taking a page from malwar that has plagued Microsoft’s operating system for some time, although Android device users might not appreciate the effort.

A recently discovered Trojan that has been named Backdoor AndroidOS Obad.a by Kapersky Labs enables remote users to issue commands on an infected device and has the ability to evade detection, according to piece in Computerworld Singapore.

Look out Apple and Samsung- here comes Microsoft

Microsoft was a late player in the tablet game but has been working hard to make up ground. Its latest move is to highlight its products, including non-tablet ones at Best Buy stores with dedicated sections, much as its rivals do.

The Windows Stores, they will average between 1,500 to 2,200 square feet and will include not only Surface tablets but also a host of other Microsoft products including phones, PCs and Xbox products, according to SlashGear.

Beer App upgrade in time for Fathers Day

The beer app SaveonBrew has just been upgraded so if you are looking for a deal on the latest six pack of lager or hoping to find a place within driving distance that sells Pliny the Elder this could be the app for you.

It features more than 50,000 retail outlets covering as many as 300,000 beer specials that you can use by simply applying you zip code. Its web site also has some handy information such as a list of hangover cures.

Wedge Buster Closes Series A Funding as it Launches a set of Social Media Games

Wedge Busters

While looking into RocketPlay, a company that has started developing gaming apps for social media I also started looking around for others in this field since it is relatively new and seems to offer a great deal of opportunity.

Enter Wedge Buster, a startup formed last year and based in Los Angeles that has just closed its first round of funding which will give it a $2.2 million cash infusion and which already has its site up and running.

Wedge Buster is focusing on two different but related areas, sports gaming and fantasy sports, and will be presenting its offerings on two related but different platforms, social media and mobile platforms.

The Series A funding round has some interesting investors including NFL quarterback Drew Brees, pro skater Rob Dyrdek, 37 Venture Technologies as well as some angel investors that the company said include players in the gaming and media industry. The company said that it will use the funding to speed game development, support marketing strategies and expand the distribution gaming network with media companies.

It already has a stable of games at or near a stage where they can be played by users. It has ether developed or acquired 100 games and since its launch earlier this week has a number of games already available.

Among the games is Soccer Trouble, Around the World Darts, WB Striker, WB Footy and a number of others that span everything from baseball to sharpshooting. Currently in the fantasy space it has four offerings including one where it offers a Fantasy Football Commissioner with SI and Turner. The company is now launching on Facebook and expects to soon be launching on Android and Apple phones as well in the near future.

The potential of this space appears to be huge. Earlier this year Juniper Research said that overall, games and infotainment in the mobile space is expected to become a $65 billion market by 2016 due to the growing move to mobile devices.

Wedge Buster claims that others are missing the value that social media offers, but are they? Also are the barriers to entry that high that established Internet players cannot quickly enter? I think the answer to both of these is no.

In the area of Fantasy sports look at RotoWire, which has a presence on Facebook as well as on the Internet and mobile apps as well. Its rivals also have followed suit. Then players like Zynga have entered this type of social games with its first partnership.

Others are sure to follow since this is obviously a growth area and so established players in the gaming field such as EA Sports see opportunity here. That said with its broad based approach, having so many games that can appeal to a wide, diverse audience will certainly place Wedge Buster in a good position right from the start.

EA Sports Seeks to Enhance Madden NFL 13 Experience with Feedback from Gamers

EA Sports: Madden NFL 13

Pretty much every football fan I know either has a version of Madden NFL or has a friend whose house they sneak over to play the game, something that has made it one of the top video games of all time, if not the top.

The releases of the latest version of the game each year led to a stampede down to the local outlet to grab a copy and try to get a head start on viewing the changing skill sets of players as the game evolved. No other game could compare.

However in recent years an evil foe has risen to threaten its position at the apex of sports game superstardom, soccer! That’s right, FIFA, the game on soccer published by Electronic Arts, also the publisher of Madden NFL has threatened its top dog position and even overtaken it, only to eventually to fall back.

This season EA is taking steps to enhance the fan experience even more in the upcoming version of Madden NFL, that being it will enable fans to vote on top players at various positions and skill sets, the results of which will be added to the final release, which is due Aug. 28, although if you have Season Ticket you can get an early release on Aug. 24.

The most recent question in front of fans on its Facebook page, at least of this writing, is who should be the most elusive running back in Madden 13? LeSean McCoy appears to have a sizable lead over both Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles.

Head over to the Facebook page and you can also read the results of previous votes, with the running back position being the most recent to have its various skill sets broken down. I wonder if they have found any attempts at packing the ballot box?

While with just three options even the worst is still an elite player but we have seen attempts to pack the vote during all star voting for real teams over the last few years so why not here? It would be interesting to see a series of write-in candidates get strong support, despite their poor numbers, if just to see the angst this would cause serious gamers.

According to a brief piece in Forbes, Madden had been seeing declining sales over the last five years, and that this year has seen an upsurge in pre-orders prior to the release of the final copy of the game in a few weeks. Hard to say that the two are related but it certainly seems possible.