Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Olympics a Big Win for NBC

The Pew Research Center has done a study on the Summer Olympics in London and U.S. viewership and the numbers are truly amazing, and must make the bean counters at NBC very happy indeed since it invested $1.12 billion for the broadcast rights.

According to the report 78% of Americans were watching the game either on broadcast television, online or on social media. TV is head and shoulders above any other option as the most popular viewing medium with 73% watching the big screen.

The approval ratings are very high as well, with 76% giving the broadcasts either an excellent (29%) or good rating (47%) with 13% said it was fair and 5% said it was poor. Looks like the “vocal minority” (as NBC execs called them) criticizing the games and the broadcast schedules on Twitter didn't keep their friends from watching.

Google gets $22.5 million fine over privacy breakdown
The Federal Trade Commission has come down hard on Internet search giant Google, hitting the company with a $22.5 million fine, the largest ever from the FTC, for its manipulation of Apple’s Safari browser.

Google has developed a method for tracking people Safari users and gather data on their activities, even though the company had promised not to do anything along this line. The move violated Google’s settlement with the FTC on a different issue, it concluded.

I wonder how this will impact Google’s current testing of using information garnered from users’ gmails to help come up with search results. I know that if this becomes a mainstream feature I am off gmail.

Nokia sheds app unit- puts more eggs in Microsoft’s basket

Nokia is parting way with its QT app tools unit, agreeing to sell the unit to Digia Oyj, Bloomberg reported. Nokia purchased the tool company back in 2008 when it needed its expertise to help create apps for two operating systems that Nokia owned at that time — MeeGo and Symbian.

It has since curtailed those operating system efforts and has been focusing on delivering phones that run on Microsoft’s operating systems. With that in mind it can now leverage the ecosystem that Microsoft is growing in terms of app development without a self funded effort.

Android and iOS dominate smartphone OS
The latest report from market research firm International Data Corp. s

hows that between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating system the two own 85% of the smartphone OS market. I don’t think that this comes as much of a surprise to anyone, but it is great to see hard numbers on the issue.

Overall in the second quarter of 2012 IDC found that Android phones had 104.8 million units shipped good for a 68.1% market share while Apple’s iOS had 26 million iOS products shipped, good for a 16.9% share. Samsung appears to be the big winner, accounting for 44% of all Android phones in the second quarter of this year. BlackBerry came in third at 7.4 million units and a 4.8% market share.

Facebook settles privacy issue with FTC
The Federal Trade Commission has reached a final settlement with Facebook over what users’ personal data Facebook can expose. The company will now need an explicit ‘opt in’ from the user before it can change the types of information that it will make public. Facebook will also face an audit every other year for the next 20 years to ensure compliance.

Apple vs. Samsung Week 2
Nothing earth shattering has come out of this lingering case. It looks like an iPhone, it does not look like an iPhone. Does Samsung’s products confuse consumers or are they already confused? One interesting piece of information was the total iPhone sales in the platforms five years of existence. In the US market the company has sold 85 million iPhones, good for a hefty $50 million. It sold 34 million iPads in the US market in the last two years, good for $19 billion in revenue. It appears Apple warned Samsung in 2010 that it believed that Samsung was infringing on Apple patents and that it wanted between $30-$40 per device in licensing fees.

Smartphones pay off for Microsoft, just not how you would expect
Microsoft is still seeking to establish a major presence in the smartphone space, trailing Android, iOS and even Symbian-based devices, but if a report from Trefis is correct, it still rakes in the big dollars in the smartphone market.

The reason is patents, and some of the most successful players in the smartphone space including Samsung and HTC, pay Microsoft a bundle in royalty payments each quarter. According to a piece in Yahoo news, Microsoft made approximately $792 million in the second quarter of 2012 just from the two companies mentioned.


Apple Bids $356 million for Security Firm AuthenTec

Apple has made a bid to purchase AuthenTec, a company that develops security solution around its fingerprint reader technology. Apple is offering $8 per share for the company bringing the deal’s value to approximately $356 million.

AuthenTec currently sells its technology into the mobile and networking space and the move could be a step by Apple in providing authentification in its mobile devices such as the i{Phone and iPad as these are increasingly used as digital wallets and credit cards.

According to a blurb on the AuthenTec site the market for worldwide mobile payments is expected to grow from an estimated $240 billion this year to $670 billion by 2015, using data from Jupiter Research.

AuthenTec already has a wide range of offerings for the mobile payment space including products that are low powered and so ideal for smartphones. Current clients include Samsung which uses the technology in its smartphones and tablets as does Lenovo, and it already has a solution for Apple’s PCs

The deal needs to be approved by AuthenTec’s shareholders, having already received unanimous approval by its shareholders. The stock has surged since the bid was made public and Yahoo is reporting that the company can accept higher bids, but that it cannot solicit them. There is an $11 million breakup fee it would have to pay Apple if it does accept a higher bid.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Top 5 Tablets, Nexus Components Breakdown = $184

Google is now asking for $4 million from Oracle to cover Google’s legal expenses it incurred during its recent copyright and patent infringement battle. According to a piece in Wired, Google claims that since it prevailed on the majority of issues it is entitled to recovery costs.

It has not made public an individual breakdown of the bill but it includes $2.9 million for the copying and organization of the 97 million documents used in the case. Oracle has already said that it will appeal the case.

Google Nexus component costs = $184
A teardown on the recently announced Google Nexus 7 appears to show that the company is basically selling the device at cost, something that is also believed to be true of its rival Amazon’s Kindle Fire. According to research done by Tech Insights a list of the components are available.

From the list it appears that a $199 version of the device would have a cost of $184, leaving the company a whopping $15 profit, as long as there was no shipping and handling charges for it. It looks like the razor/razor blade model is alive and well.

Top 5 Tablet companies
Google entered the tablet space to a great deal of fanfare last month when it introduced its Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet that is being manufactured by AsusTek. Yet as even the most casual observer notes, Apple continues to dominate this space and new players are expected to enter with the expected onslaught on Windows 8-powered tablets including Microsoft’s Surface tablet will also be available, greatly increasing the level of competition in this space.

According to market research firm HIS iSuppli, as reported by the Ventura County Star, last year Apple owned 62% of the market with 40.5 million iPads sold.
2) Samsung 9% 6.1 million Galaxy’s sold
3) Amazon 6% 3.9 million Kindles
4) Barnes & Noble 5% 3.3 million Nooks
5) AsusTek 3% 2.1 million Transformers
• Other, 9.4 million, 14 percent

Samsung to offer Windows RT Tablet in fall?
Samsung is reportedly preparing a tablet that will run Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows RT software, a version of Windows 8 that is designed to operate on devices powered by the ARM processors that current dominate in the Android space.

Samsung had previously said that it would support the Windows 8 Pro that is designed to run on chips from Intel and AMD. Rival Hewlett-Packard has said that it will support Windows 8 Pro but was unclear if and when it would also support RT.

Facebook in new mobile ad push
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Facebook is addressing one of its perceived weaknesses, the lack of mobile revenue, with an advertising push that will be based on tracking which apps are used on phones.

This will not be all apps, just those that are used through its Facebook Connect feature, and then it will produce ads based on that usage. Apple and Google currently track what apps users have downloaded, and Apple targets them with specific ads while Google currently does not, the piece said.

Facebook and Yahoo kiss and make up on patents
In a move that stands out because it is so rare, Facebook and Yahoo have come to an agreement on patent infringement issues that had lead to the filing of lawsuits against each other. Rather than see the issue through the long and costly court system the two settled all patent issues between themselves.

In addition the two have launched a new advertising partnership and extended and expanded an existing distribution agreement between the two companies. As part of the advertising agreement their will work to get ads that run on both sites and work to integrate the two sites.

Leading Judge blasts US Patent system
On the flip side of the Facebook/Yahoo agreement is the Apple vs. Motorola Mobility lawsuits. U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner, the man who threw out the case between the two has said that the patent system resembles a jungle were rivals seek to wound foes by any means necessary.

Posner questioned whether patents should cover software in high tech and said that while it made sense to give intellectual property protection in some areas such as pharmaceuticals due to the huge investments, he wondered if that was true in other markets.

Samsung wins temporary stay on Galaxy Nexus ban
The US Court of Appeals has granted a temporary stay on the injunction that prevented Samsung from selling its popular Galaxy smartphones. Apple now has until July 12 to respond to the motion to stay, according to Foss Patents.

After Apple responds the court will then decide on a stay for the entire time that it takes fro Samsung’s formal appeal to be heard. Samsung had apparently lost its last 5 attempts to win a stay in this case, according to Foss.

NFL and NFLPA Headed to Court Again

The unhappy couple is once again heading to the legal system to settle their disagreements, and there is the chance that more legal issues will come to a head soon that might result in more court action in the near future.

It seems that the NFL’s uncapped season a year ago was actually capped, they just did not bother to tell the players. However the issue came to light with the Commissioner fining the Redskins and Cowboys a total of $42 million in cap space for having the audacity of treating an uncapped year as an uncapped year.

The big issue now is that the NFL Players Association is charging that the NFL owners engaged in collusion, however there seems to be an article in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement that gives the NFLPA’s approval of the move and so prohibits a lawsuit of this type.

So far the NFLPA disagrees and said that it has cost the players $1 billion and that it will see treble damages. (Can you say $1 billion without doing it in Dr Evil’s voice?) For a much more complete coverage of the issue I would recommend heading over to ProFootballTalk at NBC Sports, the site has been covering the issue vigorously from the start.

However there are other issues bubbling to the top as well between the two. The NFL has installed a new pads rule and will start requiring thigh and knee pads as mandatory equipment for all players starting with the 2013 season. The league has determined that since this is a playing rule it does not need to get the NFL’s Players Association’s permission.

The NFLPA has an entirely different take on the issue and believes that this is a change in work conditions and that is something that needs to be negotiated. Thigh and knee pads are already required in high school and college.

Then there is the bounty case, and all the fallout associated with it. ESPN has reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that the NFL will make the evidence of the case public, but not until after all of the players’ appeals have been heard. The commissioner also mentioned that while he understood that current Cleveland Brown’s linebacker Scott Fujita, suspended for three games for his participation, was in a tough position but that suing the commissioner for defamation was the wrong way to go about it. But the courts seem like the place where much of the NFL’s hard hitting will take place, at least this summer.

Friday Grab Bag: Are Replacement Refs in the NFL’s Future?

Mashable does a nice job showing how fast eight technologies have penetrated the US market since the telephone was patented in 1876. The speed upon which each succeeding generation of technology grows is interesting as many of them piggybacked on older technology. I mean you cannot have these technologies until electricity reached all of the country.

I was interested to see how relatively slowly the Internet caught on compared to mobile phones, but I guess that is partly due to a number of issues from slow connections early on, lack of a substantial amount of meaningful content ( I mean at one time one of the most popular site on the internet was watching a coffee pot) and emerging rival modem standards that helped confuse non-technical users.

From the charts it looks as if it is possible that the two emerging fields, tablets and smartphones are headed to being the fasted technologies adopted to date. Smartphones make sense since they are an extension of an already known commodity but tablets are a relatively fresh start. The data covers the past five years and the numbers from the next five look to be very interesting.

NFL still not produced evidence on Saints bounty program, NFLPA claim
The NFL Players Association continues to claim that it has not been given “specific, detailed evidence of player involvement in a pay-to-injure program.” Domonique Foxworth, president of the NFLPA has an opinion piece in USA Today in which he stated that punishment demands evidence and the league is not willing to produce it.

He claims rather than produce the evidence the league has used media leaks, pr campaigns and character assignation to manipulate public opinion.

Apple wins one
Apple, on a recent losing streak in the legal department won a case this week when a judge threw out the Proview Electronics Co.’s trademark lawsuit against Apple. The case, which has bogged down Apple in China, has ruled that Proview cannot sue Apple in California.

The case revolves around Apple’s purchase of the iPad trademark from Proview and then Proview claiming it did not sell the rights to the iPad name in China. The two are reportedly looking at a cash settlement but are far apart on the terms.

St. Louis Blues sold
The NHL Board of Governors has approved the sale of the St/ Louis Blues hockey team to Tom Stillman, a beer distributor, for an estimated price of $130 million. Stillman has been a minority owner of the team since 2007, Yahoo! reports.

The team has been for sale for the last two years, ever since the current ownership group, led by Dave Checketts and his Sports Capital Partners Worldwide, started to look around. It had originally been looking for investors to buy out Towerbrook Captal Partners which held 70% of the team but could not find investors.

Google wins a bit more in trial versus Oracle
After a jury ruled that Google did infringe on Oracle’s API copyrights but could not reach a decision on if that action was protected by the ‘fair use’ doctrine that allows copyrighted material to be used Oracle asked the judge to throw out Google’s ‘fair use’ defense.

The judge declined saying he did not think that it would be correct for him to rule in favor of Oracle. Experts now expect at least a partial retrial of the first portion of the case.

Who do Crowdfunders Invest in?
We have started talking a lot about crowdfunding, but mostly in relation to just a very few efforts, and yet that industry is starting to emerge as a huge source of funding for startups, enabling a wide variety of developers to get seed money and more to launch products.

Well if you were interested in a breakdown by category of where the money is going at Kickstarter wonder no more because there is now a great graphical breakdown of the effort. A few interesting facts-50,000 projects have sought funding since it opened its doors in 2009 and film and video is the top pledge earner, with $60 million pledged to date. There is a host of interesting information so head on over and take a look.

Replacement officials in the wins for NFL season?
Fox Sports is reporting that the NFL has started to look at replacement officials for the upcoming season in case it cannot reach a new agreement with the NFL Referees Association- currently the talks are at an impasse.

The league is asking its officiate scouting department to help identify potential replacements with an eye out for recently retired college officials as well as current officials at a variety of levels of the sport including semiprofessional leagues. The NFL used replacement officials in 2001 at the start of the season.

Smart Shoes the next trend in computing?
Computer scientists from e Telekom Innovation Laboratories, the University of Munich, and the University of Toronto have taken a step forward on a research paper on the next generation of wearable computing with the publication of a joint paper entitled “ShoeSense.”

The gist of the paper apparently calls for the development of sensors that would be placed in shoes that have the ability to understand customizable hand and arm gestures that are then relayed as commands to a smartphone. Users would be able to then send messages without appearing to while in meetings, at dinner and other places that it is not always appropriate to do so on the handset.

Nielsen looks at smartphone owners in US
A recent report from Nielsen shows that smartphone ownership continues to rise in the US and is now the preferred handset of more than 50% of Americans, actually 50.4%, up from 47.8% in December 2011.

Android is the dominate operating system with a 48.5% market share then followed by Apple’s iOS with 32%. Research in Motion’s Blackberry platform has 11.6% followed by Windows Mobile, Windows Phone and then others.

NFL Draft 2012: Where to Watch and Where to go Online for Information

The phenomenon that is the NFL Draft starts this Thursday, a prime time extravaganza that makes experts out of casual fans and stars or bums out of the legions of ‘experts’ that not only predict teams picks but also how well that player will fit in and perform for his new employer.

Who will be this year’s great picks, the Peyton Manning and Wes Welker of the draft and who will be this year’s Ryan Leaf and Charles Rogers? Hard to say but just about everybody with a keyboard and an Internet connection seems to have an opinion.

It is probably impossible to list all of the options available to fans to gather information prior to the draft and then assess it after, but we here at Mobile Sports Report thought we would put out a list of some of the more popular and/or interesting places to go for your viewing and information pleasure. We will try and only mention each site or app once, since most cover the gamut of activities that will be occurring this week.

The Usual Suspects
Of course first and foremost is the NFL Network– which since the NFL owns it, will have a solid show on the draft and has been talking about the event for some time. The web site for the network features a counter until the draft starts, a Mock Draft page, Mike Mayock’s predictions, a draft tracker and a contest to predict the picks with the possibility of going to the Super Bowl, and that is just naming some of the information available.

Of course rivaling the NFL Network is ESPN, which is almost All-NFL all the time these days. Aside from broadcasting the draft as well a wide assortment of pages dedicated to the draft on its web site including Mel Kiper’s latest, Todd McShay’s latest and a number of other tidbits. It should be noted that a number of ESPN’s offerings are for subscribers to its Insider service only.

Fox, one of the NFL’s broadcasting partners does not have a national show for the draft, at least one I could find, and its web page is significantly more subdued in its coverage of the draft, although it does provide a good deal of information, just not to the level of ESPN or NFL Network.

The Focused Few
As most any but the most casual fan knows, there is an increasingly large body of sites that follow the NFL full time. The fall everywhere from sites run by major organizations such as Yahoo! to very well done amateur sites. We will cover a few in both areas.

Might as well start with Yahoo! Sports, one of the most popular sports sites on the Internet, if not the most popular. In all areas it has been poaching top talent, but has always had a solid football footing. It allows customization by users so that you can follow your team and has a section on the draft, as well as recent transactions so you can see who is retiring or traded.

Another up and comer is USA Today Sports Media Group, an amalgamation of a number of properties. The USA Today site of course has long been one of the best day after game sections for important stats, both print and online. One of its properties, The Big Lead is worthwhile both for Jason Lisk’s football coverage and analysis but also for the very spirited, and usually informed, conversations that accompany its articles.

The National Football Post strength in my opinion has been its columns, but it has strong NFL connections and follows the sport quite well. To fill out the rest of the top online players there is NBC Sports and as part of it the popular Pro Football Talk site. Other good sites include CBS Sports and SB Nation.

Alternative sources
One area that it makes sense to remember is sites that specialize in Fantasy Football. They need to know how valuable the players available for the draft are expected to be, so that they can (hopefully) make informed recommendations to users of their sites. Head over to someplace such as The Huddle where they have already broken down the draft by position

Over at Fantasy Knuckleheads the site has full mock drafts teams as well as projected round drafts. An interesting feature was a piece on breaking down ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s mock draft. I think that I may revisit it after the draft and so see how both Kiper and the author did in the draft.

How can you not want to look at a site called NFL Draft Geek? Breakdowns on the top skill positions are already up and more are slated to be posted prior to the draft. They obviously have strong opinions on issues and have Baylor’s Robert Griffin III as the #4 best player in the draft, for instance.

I enjoy a good retrospective piece on past season’s drafts. The trouble is often that they often just focus on the past year and it often takes several before you can really get a feel for how a draft works out. Over at Football Outsiders they look back six years, and as always from this site the piece are fact driven.

As a bonus you can see its breakdown on a variety of last year’s statistics and so get a solid feel for what teams need, or what appeared to be weaknesses last year. Another of the more cerebral sites is SmartFootball, and while its impact in following the draft is minimal in some senses, its focus on trends in the NFL helps put drafted players into a larger perspective.

If you end the draft just wondering what ever happened to some player that you liked in school but lost track of in the pros, head over to Pre-Football Reference site to look them up. Among its features are areas that cover teams, years and individual starts.