Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Mostly Apple Edition

Flush from releasing its latest iPad, its stock price hovering near $600 and with billions in cash in the bank, Apple has announced plans to launch a dividend and share repurchasing program. The two programs will result in the company spending approximately $45 billion in three years.

The plan calls for Apple to spend $10 billion in a share repurchase program that will begin in September 30, 2012. Its goal is to help neutralize the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs. This program has already been approved by the company’s Board of Directors.

The second program calls for a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share sometime in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012. This is still pending approval by Apple’s BoD.

Apple loses key ITC ruling
After a strong winning streak in its patent battles Apple is starting to lose a few again. The latest comes with an Administration Law Judge at the International Trade Commission ruling that Motorola Mobility did not infringe on three Apple patents. Apple had appealed an earlier ruling on the topic, and will now likely take the issue to court, so it is far from over.

Conde Nast to give advertisers viewer data
Conde Nast is finally relating the information it has been harvesting from readers of its iPad edition of its magazines. For the last 2 years a variety of its publications have been available on the tablets and I has been tracking a variety of information including basic data such as how many readers it has, the breakdown between paid and single issue sales and how long readers view articles and ads.

I would love to hear what some of this information and home the publisher will reveal some details to the public about what impact tablets have had on its business model, both pro and con. Publishers will start receiving data on specific issues 10 weeks after it hits the stands.

Windows 8 Tablets on the Horizon.
There seems to be a lot of breathless talk that when Windows 8 is released a slew of tablets will be released and crush Apple’s iPad, returning the tablet market to the righteous. Who cares? I hope that the tablets are good and have the options I want, not how they compare to Apple. But I digress.

There is a lot of talk about who is going to have tablets when Windows 8 is available, and a list of probables and a few features is included in this piece by the International Business Times. No real surprises, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Dell and some others but worth a look so you have an idea of what is on the way.

Kindle and Nook in for a fight from new Nexus tablet?
The site Android and Me is reporting that a Nexus tablet from ASUS is a done deal and expects that the tablet will come in at a very nice $149. It is reporting that Google has selected ASUS to produce the next generation Nexus tablet and that it will have a 7-inch form factor and that all other details are unknown at this time.

However this will go directly against the two popular e-readers out there, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, which currently are the second and fourth most popular selling tablets. A good price war is always popular with consumers and I am looking forward to what they do if this turns out to be true.

Americans willing to pay for tablet content aside for news
A recent Nielsen study on tablet content purchases found some interesting facts about European and American users. Americans are willing to pay for almost all types of content, with 62% having purchased music, 58% purchased books and 51% have purchased movies, but only 19% paid for news.

That is not too far out of line with the European countries surveyed about news, aside from Italy which had 44% purchasing news content. The Europeans showed they were much less likely to buy books, movies and music than Americans.

Super Bowl Advertisers Ready to Target Mobile Users

Are you a fan of football but do not watch the Super Bowl for the ads? There may be no escaping them this year as increasingly advertisers realize that there is an untapped market for them in the online world during a game known for its broadcast ads.

A recent survey by Harris Interactive that was commissioned by mobile marketing firm Velti, as reported by MediaPost, shows that a full 60% of mobile phone users plan to also use and view their phone while watching the game.

While the news that people will use their phones is hardly earth shattering, another part of the report shows that people are twice as likely to use their phone during the ads and during the half time show. This might not be great news to companies that are shelling out an average $3.5 million for a 30 second ad, up 17% from last year.

As mobile usage soars advertisers target new space

According to Forbes the price on Super Bowl ads has increased an average of 5.7% annually, and it is predicting that the going rate will double again within the next decade making online increasingly appealing.

A late comer advertiser or a company that delays in buying the time, which sold out prior to Thanksgiving this year have an option, and one that companies that are advertising on the game telecast are taking as well- targeting mobile users in what is now being called the second screen market.

Already the bulk of the ads that are slated for broadcast on the airwaves are available online as either an ad targeting users or as a YouTube video to attract more fans. However there is an entirely different class that is just sticking with the less costly mobile ad space.

The broadcast ads are dominated by major corporations, centering around 5 market segments: automotive, beer, motion picture, soft drinks and tortilla chips, according to a recent Nielson study. Many of these will replicate their presence online as well, but there is opportunities for others as well.

The popularity of Super Bowl ads is amazing. Simply head over to YouTube’s Ad Blitz, a site dedicated to Super Bowl ads, to get a feel for just how popular this is. As of Thursday morning prior to the game there were 39,000 subscribers to the channel and 800,000 video views.

Go to Coke’s Facebook page and you can see a group of polar bears, one set in each team’s uniforms, reacting to the game in real time. The loss of eyeballs during the broadcast could be part of the broadcast advertisers own doing since many seem prepared to drive broadcast viewers online.

The Harris study found that sites like Shazam, Subway and Chevrolet have specialized apps that will support viewers driven from broadcast ads to on-line and present the opportunity to win prizes or participate in some activity.

Then if you have seen an ad that seems worth viewing again on the broadcast, you can always head over to iTunes to get an app that allows you to view past favorite Super Bowl ads as well as new ones as soon as they are available on YouTube.

I expect that the number of ads that are designed to be viewed by mobile devices only will be a strong growth category in the future, particularly as tablets continue to grow in popularity. A sharp advertiser does not care if you continue to watch the game after you have viewed their ad, so why not try and snare your attention via some focused programs online at a corporate web site?

Friday Grab Bag: Google vs. Amazon in Tablet Wars?

Pending Google Tablet to rival Kindle Fire?

Multiple reports are claiming that the long pending tablet from Google will be targeted more at the Kindle Fire market than the iPad market. While there is some overlap in the two markets currently I see them as serving different groups of primary users, although that will change.

The Google Tablet is expected to be in the 7-inch form factor and will have a $200 price tag upon its expected delivery in late March or early April. The web company is expected to first create a web site that is designed to specifically cater to expected customers of its Android-powered tablet and will make apps. Movies, books and music will be made available at that site.

This will make an interesting battle as Google’s deep pockets and ubiquity of its browser will enable it to reach a wide audience via advertising on its pages as well as in other media. A similar thrust by Barnes & Noble for its Nook has cost that company dearly but the impact for Google should be significantly less due to its much greater resources.

Twice as many Americans own 4 TVs as opposed to 1
The latest State of the Media: Consumer Usage Report from Nielsen has a number of interesting facts across the broad markets that it surveyed, with the one quoted above being just one of them.

The number of people age 13 and older that own a mobile phone is fast approaching the number of people that own at least one television- 232 million to 290 million. Satellite did much better than I had expected when compared to digital cable- 95 million compared to 145 million.

The full survey covers usage and trends across TV, mobile, online and social media and can be downloaded from the company’s site.

TiVo Delivers Android version of its App

TiVo has had an app for customers using products powered by the Apple iOS and has now greatly expanded its audience with the delivery of the app for the vast Android space as well, according to a piece in Cnet

The free app is designed for use with both smartphones and tablets and enables a user to participate in social media such as Facebook and Twitter while viewing programs that are currently playing from a TiVo box.

TiVo has also announced that it has settled pending patent litigation with AT&T. In the deal AT&T has agreed to a mutual patent licensing agreement and will be making payments to TiVo that include an initial payment of $51 million and reoccurring payments that will run until June, 2018.

Apple files for patents that cover photos and fitness.
Patently Apple has reported that Apple has won patents for Photo Booth and a sports related one that covers a fitness center app. The site has a great deal of information of the Fitness Center App and said that it covers a range of issue facing exercisers including motivation and how to use equipment.

Apple also appears to have a range of additional related patent claims pending that could help it gain a strong presence in this market, or a future in additional litigation as others imitate its direction. I wonder how all of the makers of fitness apps in the iTune store feel about this?

Additionally Apple has been awarded a patent for Photo Booth so that users of Apple devices, initially just the iPad but expected to cover both other iOS devices’ as well as OS X products to manipulate images that have been taken with the devices’ built-in camera.

Other Apple News

Apple has also filed for a pair of patents that indicate that it is seeking to develop a hydrogen fueled battery that it is speculated could power its devices for weeks between recharges. I would be happy to make it through the day right now.

According to the latest from iLounge new code found in the iOS 5.1 release points to a future that has devices powered by quad-core chips. The site said that it believes that products with quad-core chips could be delivered as early as March of this year.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Who likes Motorola’s Xyboard?

BlueSprig lands $10 million investment round
Mobile security software startup BlueSprig has secured $10 million Series A funding and has debuted a beta version of its forthcoming app for Apple iOS and Android devices. The funding came from IDG-Accel’s China Growth Fund.

The beta app, AirCover, is designed to protect users from a wide range of issues including malware, viruses and even theft. Aversion can be downloaded at its web Among the features the software offers are cloud backup, and system security. The company has also released full versions of its system utility tools, JetBoost and JetClean.

The company has offices in both San Francisco and Chengdu, China and is headed by CEO Jason Johnson who has a history of successfully launching companies and then selling them to larger concerns such as Global IP Solutions which Google purchased and InterQuest Communications which was purchased by Darwin Networks.

Nielsen study tracks smartphones rise
In “State of the Media: The Mobile Media Report”, one of its latest studies market research firm Nielsen has tracked the rapid rise of smartphones in the United States and highlights the growing impact they have on the consumer market.

Among the interesting facts is that the number of smartphone subscribers using the mobile Internet has grown 45% since last year and that 87% of app downloaders have used deal of the day websites such as Groupon.

In a related report it is noted the impact that teens are having on the mobile data market, tripling mobile data consumption and showing that teens between the ages of 13-17 use an average of 320 MB of data a month, a 256% increase over last year.

Saudi Prince invests $300m in Twitter
Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has continued his history of major investments in high tech companies this week with a $300 million stake in social micro blog company Twitter, Forbes has reported.

The investment was lead by Kingdom Holdings Co. an investment firm that he owns 95% of and which has invested in companies such as Apple, GM and News Corp. According Forbes the Prince is the 26th wealthiest billionaires’ in the world with a estimated fortune of $19.6bn.An interesting note is that he does not use Twitter.

Did the iPad kill the Netbook?
That is the point of a recent piece by Business Insider that says that Dell’s recent decision to kill off its Inspirion Mini line of netbooks is a sign that the netbook market segment is dead, and said that it sees the iPad as having killed the platform.

Dell has also recently killed its Streak tablet business but has indicated that it will most likely rejoin that space at some future date, for the time being it wants you to buy a notebook.

A look at Motorola’s latest tablet
Motorola is replacing its Xoom tablet, one of the original entrants into the current tablet market with a second generation product called the Droid Xyboard. There is two distinct models are the 10.1 a fast powerful model for the Enterprise and power users and a scaled down version called the 8.2.

Reviewers are pretty positive about the devices, with the one failing possibly being price. You can go to eWeek or Cnet for a look at the 10.1 review and to Engadget for an 8.2 review.

This and that
Amazon reports that it is selling 1 million Kindles a week.
Rumor has it that Apple is planning to release a 7.85-inch version of the iPad for release later this year?

CBS: 214,560 Online Viewers for LSU-Bama Sets New Record

Turns out we weren’t the only ones sampling CBS Sports’ free online broadcast of the LSU-Alabama game Saturday night: According to the network, the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown attracted what it believes to be the biggest-ever online audience for a college football game, with a total of 214,560 unique viewers through both website and mobile-device application interaction.

“ continues to set the pace in terms of streaming major sports event on multiple platforms,” said Jason Kint, Senior Vice President and General Manager,, in a press release Sunday. “Extending the audience by nearly a quarter of a million viewers during primetime on a Saturday night is quite an accomplishment and the perfect compliment to the CBS Sports broadcast.”

According to CBS, there were 171,648 viewers who watched the game via the website, and another 42,912 viewers who viewed the game via CBS Sports mobile using an app for Apple iOS devices (either an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch). According to CBS, “this number of unique viewers for the LSU/Alabama game is believed to be the largest audience ever to watch a football game through digital platforms.” Though Mobile Sports Report can’t immediately confirm that claim it’s more than likely true given the limited number of big-time events ever being available for free online.

Though Saturday’s event isn’t close to being the biggest online experience for CBS — according to the press release CBS hosted 1,153,981 online viewers of an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game in 2010 (a first-round game between BYU and Florida) — it also helped prove that online viewers don’t necessarily take away from a regular-broadcast audience, since the TV part of the broadcast earned the network’s second-highest rating since September of 1987. According to CBS the game had an 11.9/21 Nielsen rating.

And while the game might not have lived up to its No. 1 vs. No. 2 hype the expected online audience certainly did, and should mean that we may see more such events toward the end of the year and into college bowl season. Bookmark Mobile Sports Report to stay informed about any future online NCAA football broadcasts.

Nielsen Says Men Multitasking with Smartphones, Tablets In Record Numbers to Check Sports

While most experts point to immersive television as the future of the sports viewing, consumers are edging toward the experience slowly. Right now, consumers are mostly multitasking on smartphones and tablets when they sit in front of the television, according to  a recent report from The Nielsen Company.

Nielsen found that 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners in the United States watch television and use smartphones or tablet devices at the same time on a daily basis.

Checking sports scores ranked higher than checking television listings, couponing or looking up product information with 30 percent of all respondents, 44 percent of males and 17 percent of females saying that’s what they did with their smart phones and tablets when watching television.

Email was the top activity that people engaged in with 60 percent of respondents saying that’s what they did when they used their smartphones or tablets in front of the television.

Sports programmers take note, ZDNet says

According to a ZDNet report, the Nielsen data has a good takeaway for television programmers. ZDNet said the Nielsen data indicates that smartphones and tablets are not much of a threat to television, but it would be a good idea for programmers to continue to experiment with ways to reach the smartphone and tablet audiences, and use the medium to their advantage.

Consumer predicts cable company trouble

A comment by Tmc8tmc on The Nielsen Company’s website predicted a seismic shift:

You’ll find more consumers actually watching tv on the devices themselves through streaming (wifi, not the price gouged so-called unlimited data plans). Cable companies are in trouble.. Their business model will erode starting in 2012 to serious subscription loss by 2015.

Account for mobile, marketing services company says

One spin on the Nielsen data came from integrated content marketing services company Brafton, Inc., which said marketers of all kinds need to pay attention to tablets and smartphones replacing laptops as a primary computing device. It said location-based marketing, which falls squarely in the sweet spot of sports social media, will rise as people rely more heavily on smartphones and tablets for access to the digital domain.

Here is what  Brafton, Inc. said:

The survey results demonstrate that web marketers must ensure their plans account for the growing use of mobile devices. Search marketing campaigns typically include aggressive keyword strategies, and are also tailored to the search algorithms. However, mobile operating systems come with specialized search applications that field searches differently, factoring location into results. SEO strategies must adjust, especially in consumer-facing businesses, to include geographical elements that may drive mobile search traffic

For marketers, keyword strategies must adjust to tailor to on-the-go consumers. While the desktop PC is still the primary access point for the Internet, Brafton reported last month that experts expect this to change by 2015, when the mobile web is primed to reign supreme.

More Nielsen numbers

eReader owners were far less prone to double teaming data and entertainment than smartphone and tablet owners. Just 14 percent reported using their eReader while watching television.

Few consumers are totally abstinent from multitasking. Only 12 percent of tablet owners and 13 percent of smartphone owners say they have never used those devices while watching TV.