Friday Grab Bag: Chicago’s famed Billy Goat to close? Connected gear sales soar

Launched amid concerns that it was a fad device that would generate interest but not sales the Samsung Gear smartwatch has generated sales that total over 800,000 units over the two months that the wearable device has been available.

The product’s sales actually exceeded company expectations and Samsung said that it would ramp up holiday promotions for the device to help maintain its momentum. Rivals sitting on the sidelines debating a wearable device are no doubt watching closely.

The Billy Goat Tavern to close? Say it ain’t so!

For fans of old Saturday Night Live episodes, ones that include the late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, one of the staple skits was of a hamburger joint where they would shout out the orders such as “Cheezeborger” and say “No Coke-Pepsi” to orders.

Also well known to Chicagoans as the Billy Goat Tavern, a subterranean hangout of newspaper people for decades, it may be facing closure as redevelopment rears its ugly head, literally as the building above is being renovated. The Billy Goat home page has a link to SNL videos if you are too young to know what we are talking about. According to one local report, the tavern won’t move and may only close temporarily. Remember: No fries, chips.

Samsung has aggressive goals for its tablets
Samsung already seems to have a tablet size for every person’s needs, and now the company’s goal is apparently to sell one of its offerings to everyone as the company said that its goal in 2014 is to ship 100 million or more.

That would be double its expected 40 million that it will sell this year and would make it the leader in the tablet space, a position now owned by rival Apple’s iPad family.

MLB expands replay
Major League Baseball continues the advance of replay in games with a unanimous vote at the annual owners meeting in Orlando that saw all 30 owners vote for an expansion of the technology for use in more aspects of the game.

Among the changes will be managers getting a limited number of challenges, replays will all be handled from a central office at MLB’s Advanced Media site in New York and that some plays are not reviewable.

AT&T teams with Red Bull Racing
No you will not see someone wearing an AT&T headset while setting a new world record free fall (at least I don’t think so) but the telecommunications company has signed a deal to provide communication services to Red Bull’s Formula One Racing team.

The deal is more than just having race day team members being able to communicate but will connect geographically diverse locations such as Infiniti Red Bull’s HQ in the U.K. and its engine manufacturer in France.

Toshiba launches 7-inch Android tablet.

Toshiba’s Digital Products Division has introduced the Excite 7, a seven-inch Android, the latest expansion to its Excite tablet family. It features a 1024 x 600 resolution display with a 1.6GHz quad core processor and 1GB of RAM

The device, which as a MSRP of $169.99 also includes a 3MP rear facing camera and a 0,3 MP front facing camera, and comes with either 8GB or 16GB of storage. It is currently shipping.

Fox News: Stadiums Are Getting Wi-Fi! Who Knew?

Amazing! What will those crazy Silicon Valley people think of next! The good news is, the reporter actually gets most of the facts straight on this report. But the tee-up studio host makes it sound like Wi-Fi is something new. In fact, our survey of more than 50 top stadiums found that 33 percent of stadiums already have Wi-Fi to all parts of the stadium — so it’s not something that’s just happening now. But here is how mainstream sort-of media handles the scoop:

Glad to see Jim Gray is over “The Decision” and is now for hire as a “sports business analyst.”

Need some stats on stadium Wi-Fi? Download our free report. Bonus: No Jim Gray analysis.

Major League Gaming Summer Championships Start Tonight

Major League Gaming

If you are a top gamer and are looking for glory then this weekend the place you should be is in Raleigh, North Carolina when the Major League Gaming Summer Championships start today with winners crowned at the end of the three day event.

There will be four different games all of which will be broadcast and you can look on the web site here to see what times and streams the game that you might be interested in will be playing. The first of the games starts with StarCraft II followed by League of Legends, Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur V.

The StarCraft II tournament will have both Group play and a huge open bracket and will be playing for a total of $76,000 in prize money. The other matches will include the top competitors from the past season as well as some hopefuls that believe they can come out on top, Played on a PS3 gamers are vying for $16,700 in prize money in each of the games.

The MLG Pro Circuit has four full seasons that are each followed by a championship tournament. While players can compete over the course of the season online in a number of events, to play in the championships a player or team must be present.

This year the MLG signed an exclusive deal with CBS Interactive that made CBS Interactive the exclusive online broadcaster of the Pro Circuit. There is a good deal of speculation that CBS will broadcast events, or at least the fall championship going forwards.

StarCraft II

The games can and do change over the course of the year. For the spring championships players had StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, League of Legends, Mortal Kombat 9, Soul Calibur V as well as The King of Fighters XIII. The online viewership reached 4.7 million unique viewers and had 20,000 fans in attendance in Anaheim. The fall event will take place in Dallas on Nov.2-4.

If you attend the current championships and have a good story or images drop me a line at and maybe we can get it into a future piece.


Reuters’ Photographer Captures Iconic Olympic Image After Three Days’ Wait

Luke MacGregor, a photographer for Reuters, the international news service, didn’t capture an athlete in flight or a dramatic race finish. But after three days of trying, MacGregor captured among the most stunning images of the London Olympics.

Posting the details of his three-night mission near the Tower Bridge in London on his blog, the photographer perfectly captured the moon as the sixth Olympic ring.

Tower Bridge. Image © Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Using a smartphone application to properly gauge the rising of the moon, MacGregor details his quest to get the shot in a three-day diary, accompanied by three images.

In one first-day passage of his blog post, the photographer writes:

“Having planned to be in the ‘perfect’ spot on London Bridge with a good view of the Olympic Rings further up river and using the app information, I waited for the moon to rise.

“However the horizon itself was a little cloudy. When the moon eventually showed itself about 10 minutes after the app’s moonrise time it was off to the right hand side of the bridge. I hadn’t taken into account that the moon wouldn’t rise in a vertical line but would travel across the sky.”

Two days later, after calculating the changing exposure, the brightness of the moon and dealing with curious tourists in the line of his pending image, MacGregor got what he wanted. It’s an iconic image, a remembrance of the London Olympics far away from competition but as poignant as an event.

To read MacGregor’s blog in full and to view the three images, visit: Shooting The Moon
James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports, business, travel and leisure. Visit his cycling site at

FIBA to push for 3 on 3 Basketball as Olympic Sport

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which governs international basketball competition, is seeking to establish its three on three (3×3) version of the sport as an Olympic event in the coming years, it has said. It is shooting for the 2020 games at the latest.

While you hear about plenty of sports seeking Olympic recognition, 3×3 looks like it has an inside track. It has been played competitively, and by this we mean on a world stage not the inner city asphalt courts of its birth, since 2007 and made its worldwide debut at the 2010 Youth Olympics.

It is a widely played version of the sports and FIBA has massive federation membership numbers, with over 213 national federations spread over five geographical zones; Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. FIBA said that it sees the sports adoption much in the way that beach volleyball followed indoor volleyball in to the Olympic camp.

Currently FIBA is launching a new three on three tournament that will follow its 3×3 World Tour. The world tour will have teams playing in six cities this year with several of them have already been played: Sao Paulo (July 14-15); Vladivostok, Russia (July 21-22); N.Y. (Aug. 18-19); Istanbul (Sept. 1-2); Madrid (Sept. 8-9) and Miami (Sept. 22-23).

There was a series of 70 qualifiers that were held to hone down the teams that were allowed to play in the event. The event looks to have an informal feel to it as aside from players’ skill events it also invites local street artists and DJs to perform and has an open to the public contest as well.

The Miami games will be the finals and there are a variety of teams broken down by age and sex playing in the tournaments. Nike and Samsung are major sponsors for the events.

Google, Facebook buy Apple-Focused developers

Hooking onto Apple’s money making bandwagon seems the way to go and two rival giants are doing just that, using their deep pockets to buy up technologies and development teams that will enable them to have more Apple iOS and related development skills in house.

The moves should not be a surprise for many reasons. Facebook and Apple have been moving closer together in recent days. Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6 has a great deal of integration with Facebook.

Google, while there are some signs of discord between it and Apple, particularly in the area of maps, has been a very aggressive company in the mergers and acquisition space for some time and this seems like a natural continuation of that activity.

First up is Google, which has acquired a company called Sparrow that makes email clients for both Apple iPhones as well as for its Macintosh desktop products, as some call a better way to use Google’s Gmail. So the fit seems a natural in many ways as the development team, which will be attached to the Gmail team, will seek to simplify the communications app. The Verge is reporting that the deal may have been worth $25 million.

Facebook’s deal, acquiring the development team at Acrylic Software, is actually more personnel focused. Acrylic is an app design studio that also designs for Apple’s iOS. This move is also following a trend by Facebook, it did not acquire the apps that the company has developed, notably a news reader and a secure wallet app, but rather it gained the company’s two employees, it a move that is called an acqui-hire.