PGA’s Mobile Device Policies a Bit At Odds With Tourney’s Online Promotions

The golf hasn’t started yet but as we look through the spectator guide for the PGA Championship we ran across the mobile device policy, which seems pretty sound. Turn your phone to vibrate, you can check data and send messages, just no picture-taking during the golf. And certainly no video. Otherwise you will be asked to surrender your device, which you can then pick up later you naughty online phone user, you.

Of course, this rule will apparently NOT apply to PGA staffers, since the championship is making a big deal of its social media coolness this weekend in Kiawah. The tournament even has an Instagram page and will be hosting some fun Viddy videos, probably shot on phones. Just not on fan phones. So, yes, the PGA Championship is into social media. Just not any social media created by, you know, people.

Scrolling down a bit on the user guide we see that the PGA is suggesting that folks leave distracting items at home like dogs and milk crates, as well as iPods and iPads. But the news release for the tournament’s digital coverage notes that a lot of items will be designed to take advantage of the iPad:

Optimized for iPad – the official PGA Championship site and PGA Championship LIVE will be optimized for the iPad. The site and video player will take advantage of the iPad’s large, multi-touch display to provide fans an enriched viewing experience.

Seems like with the inevitable rain delays, an iPad could be a handy thing to have out there on the island. So don’t bring it. But if you do, enjoy the iPad optimization.

Our favorite bit from the user guide, however, has nothing to do with digital — unless it’s the digits on your hands that you save by not being utterly stupid:

Please do not disturb or feed alligators, snakes or other
natural wildlife while on the grounds of the Ocean Course.
Use caution when walking in areas near ponds and tall grasses.

I’d watch out for Tigers too. They tend to attract big crowds, and will turn on anyone using a camera phone to record their brush with greatness.

PGA Goes Big With Social Media at Golf’s Final Major

Screen grab of the PGA's Social Caddy page. Credit: PGA

We’ll have a separate Watching Golf this Week post tomorrow with all the details as usual, but I think it’s worth taking a quick look today at how the PGA is going big with social media for the year’s last major, the PGA Championship, which starts tomorrow.

Aside from the usual flurry of tweets and posts from the tour, it appears that the PGA is leaving no social media stone unturned this week. Starting with something they are calling the Social Caddy — a catch-all portal page with a bunch of links to things like Twitter streams and Instagram photos — the tour also has people roaming around grabbing fun, pointless little Viddy videos like this near-worthless “inside” meetup with World No. 1 Luke Donald.

There’s other stuff too, like assigning a writer to capture the predictions of fans from the PGA’s Facebook page. Pretty neat. But I’m not sure where I stand on the whole Social Caddy page idea — one thing I hear from a lot of people is that they are at the social media exhaustion level, and the idea of having to monitor or join one more place to share is not very appealing. But that may just be the media/golf insider thing. It may very well be that there are a lot of golf fans who are new to things like Twitter and need a helping hand to find Twitter handles for players, golf writers and other interesting folks who might have something worthwhile to say. (It looks like a lot of self-promoters and golf advertisers have found the PGA’s “fans” column on the Social Caddy Twitter feed so I am not sure how worthwhile that stream will be going forward)

So far it also looks like most of the “social” content is being generated by types, which can be amusing (there is a Viddy clip of someone standing at the back of the driving range, challenging players to hit him) but will probably get stale soon. It would be much better if the PGA’s Instagram page, for example, had Instagram pix from the players themselves — as we’ve learned from Kevin Love and the Olympics some of that real-insider stuff can be pretty good and bring us a lot closer to the athletes than ever before.

Though golfers are notorious for being cell phone addicts — like Rickie Fowler, who tweets from his private plane — I also seem to see that most of them shut down the streams when the tournament starts. And it’s really not so hard to assemble your own golfing social caddy, by just finding and following people who are interesting in your main Twitter feed. And, I am guessing a lot of this effort is going to be lost anyway due to the atttention conflict with the last weekend of the Olympics. But when it comes to social media, clearly the PGA is trying hard.

Autodesk Snaps Up Socialcam for a Cool $60 Million

3D design powerhouse Autodesk has purchased startup Socialcam for $60 million in a deal that is expected to close in the third quarter that ends Oct. 31, 2012, according to a release from Autodesk.

Socialcam has only been on the scene since last year, but its technology that provides mobile social video capture, editing and sharing app and service has proven to be very popular with users. It is estimated that the platform has 54.7 million users. Top rival Viddy has half as many users and had a valuation of $200 million, at least at one point.

The move and the price both come as a bit of a surprise. While Autodesk has expanded from its core of delivering high end software for 3D modeling and architectural markets into entertainment, many had been predicting that Socialcam would go to Facebook, Google, Microsoft or one of the other major players in the social networking space.

Also the price was much lower than figures that had been tossed about when Facebook made its surprising purchase of Instagram for $1 billion. After that people were tossing around the question of what company would be the next Instagram, and the two most popular choices were Viddy and Socialcam, with an expectation that the winner’s valuation would skyrocket also.

Autodesk said that the move was due to the changing way in which its customer base was approaching their tasks, using cloud computing, mobile apps and social media for design purposes. The company said that video is a very good medium for communications and sharing of ideas and projects.

The first step will be to ensure that it supports and maintains the existing Socialcam customers, according to Autodesk. From there it seeks to scaling the platform and expanding its existing tool sets so that it can expand the technology into new and existing markets for Autodesk.

Viddy Lands $30m in Series B-Is it the next Instagram?

Viddy, an increasingly popular mobile video app developer has closed an impressive round of funding with a deal that raised $30 million from industrial investors, a sum that matches its 30 million registered users.

This is the second round of funding with Viddy closing its Series A last February after raising $6 million in a round that was led by Battery Ventures and included Qualcomm and Greycroft Ventures. The funding came from a number of high profile venture capital companies with New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs, Khosla Ventures, and Battery Ventures all contributing to the current round.

The company said that the additional funds will be used to help it grow by hiring additional engineering talent, develop additional products and expanding its offerings overseas.

Viddy is one of the leading players in the mobile video market, fighting with rivals Socialcam, Klip and Mobli for the crown, but with this type of funding interest it seems likely that more will enter the field or at least seek to raise the level of awareness for their technology.

Currently the company’s app is only available for Apple’s iPhones and even with only that segment of the market its appeal is very strong, with an estimated 30 million users, a tremendous achievement for a one year old company.

The comparisons to Instagram are growing, and speculation has the company’s valuation at anywhere between $200 and $340 million, depending on what time of the day you look. There is no doubt that a technology like this would be very nice as part of a larger overall offering from Facebook, Twitter or even something browser related like Bing or Google.