Intel True View coming to Niners, Vikings apps; but will anyone watch?

Screen shot of an Intel-powered 3D view of an NFL game.

From a sports viewing standpoint, there may not be a more compelling new technology lately than Intel’s True View platform, which can provide 360-degree 5K-resolution looks at a sporting event that are equally stunning and informative, a true leap in performance for TV-watching fans. Last week, a move by Intel to provide venture funding for app development firm VenueNext seemed like a great deal for fans of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings, whose stadium apps are slated to get the Intel technology to support 3D replay views, perhaps as early as next season.

While both the funding and the replay plans are positive moves for sports fans, our question is, will anyone really watch? While VenueNext’s app platform seems to be gaining momentum with pro teams from all the major U.S. sports leagues, the instant replay function — which was part of VenueNext’s first platform, the app for the Niners’ Levi’s Stadium — has never really caught on, peaking at the start and slowly dwindling thereafter. Replays on other mobile platforms, however — like Twitter — are enormously popular, with one Vikings video alone earning more than 4 million views.

VenueNext CEO John Paul at last week’s Intel event.

Though the Intel/VenueNext announcement garnered a lot of headlines last week, none of the other stories mentioned how little-used the instant replay function is. In fact, almost every team or stadium that has instant-replay functionality in its app declines to provide any statistics for the feature, a shyness we can only attribute to the fact that the numbers are embarrassingly low. The only one VenueNext was able to tell us about was the Niners’ app, which according to VenueNext generated approximately 1,000 views per game last season.

During 2014, the first season Levi’s Stadium was open, the app peaked early with 7,800 replays during that year’s home opener; by the end of the season that number was down to fewer than 4,000 replays per game, which prompted Niners CEO Jed York to label the service’s low uptake a surprising disappointment. Now it’s even used far less often. (VenueNext competitor YinzCam also has instant replay available for many of its team apps, but also does not provide team-by-team viewing stats.)

One reason York cited for the low replay use was the quality and frequency of replays shown on the Levi’s Stadium large video boards; while in the past many pro teams kept replays to a minimum (especially if they were unflattering to the home team) the acceptance of replay review in many leagues and a general change of behavior now sees almost constant replay showing, as well as live action on in-stadium video boards. And while the process to produce in-app video replays is stunningly quick, even the fastest replay functionality combined with the need to navigate a device screen is usually well behind live play.

Screen shot of instant replay service inside Levi’s Stadium app.

Since the amount of funding Intel is providing VenueNext was not announced, it’s hard to tell whether or not either company will consider the transaction worthwhile if the replay viewing numbers remain low. Another problem with the app replays is that many are confined to in-stadium views only due to broadcast rights restrictions; compare that handcuff to the openness of Twitter, where a video of the “Minnesota Miracle” walkoff TD shot by a quick-thinking Minnesota Vikings employee (Scott Kegley, the team’s executive director of digital media & innovation) during last year’s playoffs garnered more than 4 million views and recently won a Webby award.

If there’s a dirty not-so-secret about stadium wireless connectivity, it’s that almost every report we’ve ever seen about app and service usage inside venues puts use of open social media platforms like Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook far, far above team and stadium app usage. Though stadium and team apps are gaining more traction recently due to their embrace of service functionality for things like parking, concession transactions and digital ticketing, we still haven’t seen any reports or evidence that in-stadium instant replays are gaining in use.

Will Intel’s revolutionary technology change the game for in-app replays? We’ll track the developments and keep asking for stats, so stay tuned.

Friday Grab Bag: MLB Looks at iBeacon

In the last few weeks Microsoft has been very good at starting rumors with its vague comments about potential new directions and the latest is that it might be looking at delivering a Phablet that runs the unpopular Windows RT operating system.

As reported by Slash Gear, Microsoft vice president Terry Myerson speaking at the company’s financial analyst meeting last week said that the distinction between a phone and a tablet is blurring and that has seen the growth of the Phablet space.

Google’s Balloon idea about to pop?
Much has been made about Google’s plan to launch a series of balloons to provide Wi-Fi-around the globe in an effort called Project Loon. Now Per Lindstrand has come out against the program calling it ‘a waste of time.’

If you are unfamiliar with Lindstrand he was Richard Branson’s partner as they sought to fly a balloon around the world. He said that he expects the balloons to eventually all gather at the North or South Pole.

MLB gives iBeacon a trial run
One of the features in Apple’s recently released iOS 7 operating system is something called iBeacon. It is a technology that is designed to address the shortcomings that GPS suffers from when used indoors.

Now MLB has demonstrated the potential of the technology for use at ballgames and has the potential to bring fans to within 10 feet of their destination, not within the ½ mile that is how much a GPS can be off. No word yet if it will incorporate it in its At the Ballpark app, but keep an eye out next season.

Wall Street misses on Apple iPhone sales
The day that Apple released its latest generation iPhones the naysayers were out in force. The company has lost its mojo, CEO Cook is not inventive enough, the new phones are a dud and on and on as the stock, which had soared prior to the rollout started to sink.

The market put sales of the new phones in the 6 to 7.5 million range and just a week later Apple is breaking the 10 million unit barrier and phones are on backorder. In addition the company told Wall Street to expect quarterly earnings to be at the high end of the range it had previously announced. Mojo rising I guess.

Intel invests in Google Glass rival
Recon Instruments, which has been making wearable technology for some time has announced that Intel has come on board as a significant investor, although the sum has not been revealed. Recon makes Heads-up Displays for sports.

Recon has a number of partners including Oakley and has been shipping, and selling the devices at a number of outlets worldwide, including Apple Stores. Recon said that so far it has shipped over 50,000 devices.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 ship date set from Sprint
Sprint has announced that it will be shipping the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on Oct. 4. So fans of the very popular phone can start getting in line soon. The real good news for many will be that it comes with an Unlimited Data Guarantee for life.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN3 and Facebook Team for Hoops Tournaments

Facebook and ESPN Team on Conference Tournaments
For much of the next two weeks ESPN3 and Facebook will combine to show coverage of all of the myriad college conference basketball games in both the men’s and women’s brackets. This means that users will have access to all 225 live broadcasts.

ESPN3 has indicated that while this is its first partnering with Facebook it will not be its last as it seeks to leverage the huge audience that the social media giant commands. As ESPN3 vice president Damon Phillips said “We see this as a big opportunity. You fish where the fish are.”

However in keeping with the mantra that there is no such thing as a free lunch not all users will be able to access the games from Facebook. If you have a cable TC carrier or a broadband hookup from a carrier that broadcasts ESPN3, then you get the games for. If not, you are on the outside looking in with no games.

Siri now more insufferable?
I actually like Siri and have found the voice to be very helpful when I have used someone’s iPhone that has the technology, it is just the people showing me how many tricks that they can make it do that really annoys me.

Well now they have a new venue as Mercedes-Benz has integrated the Siri into it’s a-Class cars. The Drive Kit Plus will integrate the iPhone with the cars’ electronic platform. This will allow the Mercedes-Benz’ Digital DriveStyle App to display iPhone apps on the infotainment system screen, according to Cnet.

It will be at Mercedes-Benz’ discretion as to which apps the user can add and control but there will be some such as Twitter, Facebook and Aupeo Personal Radio will be available.

Yahoo joins in the patent fun!
Yahoo has been meeting with Facebook to resolve issues regarding a group of Yahoo patents that it asserts are being used by Facebook in a variety of applications including ads, privacy controls, news feeds, and messaging services.

The exact number of patents is not clear and has been reported as being between 10-20, now is the dollar value that Yahoo is placing on these patents. Yahoo has not taken the step of filing suit and the move is being widely viewed as an attempt to paint a positive picture of Yahoo’s overall patent portfolio as a positioning move in case the company can find a suitor to buy it.

Apps can steal your photos?
It is starting to seem that every new day brings a new manner in which data can ‘leak’ from your smartphone. The latest, courtesy of the New York Times, is that there is a group of apps that can copy a user’s entire photo library with no alert.

The problem is, at least so far, confined to iOS devices such as the iPad and the iPhone and appears to ask a user for location information and if that is approved it not only gathers that information but also downloads photos as well to a remote server. I hope it gets mine in focus, I never can

Mozilla helps you track who is tracking you
In a case of turning the tables on data trackers, Mozilla has created a Firefox add-on called Collusion, an experimental program that is designed to enable you to see who is tracking your activity across the web.

The program uses a simple, easy to understand format. As you browse the web a graph is produced showing sites represented as dots. Red for ones that are known trackers, gray for ones that might track you. You can hover your cursor over a dot for more information. It is interesting to see the interplay between sites and how fast sites that you do not visit are now tracking you. The program also allows you to turn off tracking.

Intel Capital Launches Connected Car Fund
Intel Capital has launched a $100 million fund that is dedicated to developing new technologies in automobiles. The Connected Car Fund will invest across the board in hardware, software and service companies that are developing technologies for cars.

The range of areas is large with the company expecting to invest in areas such as information and entertainment systems, wireless connectivity, mobile devices and driver assist technologies. The global fund will seek to invest in all stage companies over the next three to five years.

Friday Grab Bag: Does Facebook make no Money on Mobile?

Is a patent war in Google’s future?

No not the one with Apple that it appears to be fighting by proxy but rather one where it uses the patents it will acquire in its Motorola Mobility acquisition. The Guardian puts forward a well reasoned piece that strongly suggests that this is the only way that the company can recoup its $12.5bn investment.

The most recent financial statement from Motorola shows that it will have a negative effect on Google’s results, possibly dropping earnings per share by as much as one third. Google has long stated that one of its goals in the purchase will be the patents, and it seems that since it is already using Motorola as a tool in its on going war with Apple over patents, it now will take it to a new level.

But it is also likely that it will be more aggressive in using the patents overall, possibly to exert more control over Android handset makers and their software. The one company that could be harmed by this approach might be Amazon whose Kindle uses a basic version of Android but with all of the other Google features such as Gmail stripped out so that a user would barely know what OS it is running.

Amazon’s Kindle sales triple in last quarter

Amazon’s revenue grew 35% in its just concluded fourth quarter, reaching $17.4 billion and said that the sales of its Kindle eReaders tripled in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2011, but did not disclose the exact number sold.

However the sales growth did not meet analysts’ expectations and the company said that net income dropped significantly, down to $177 million, a 57% decline from the same period a year before. Part of the issue was a huge investment into expanding its sales fulfillment centers, a move it said will help grow the business in the long run.

For the current quarter it is predicting sales of between $12 billion to $13.4 billion and that it could post an operating loss of as much as $200 million to a profit of $100 million

Turner Broadcasting System and Intel Capital invest in iStreamPlanet’s Series A
iStreamPlanet has closed its Series A funding round with both Intel Capital and Turner Broadcasting Systems participating in the round. The amount of funding was not disclosed. iStreamPlanet develops automated video workflow technology.

Turner has already worked with iStreamPlanet in the past on a variety of live sports broadcasts going as far back as the 2010 NASCAR Coca Cola 400 at Daytona Speedway. Other events that iStreamPlanet has helped broadcast include the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football and the Championships at Wimbledon, along with the US Open Golf, Notre Dame College Football, Ryder Cup and the Kentucky Derby.

Aside from automated video workflow technology the company also has multi-screen technology as well as cross platform ad insertion capabilities.

Will BCS move games to campuses in 2014?
That is what is being reported as a possibility by Brett McMurphy over at CBSSports. He said that at least on athletic director has proposed moving many Bowl games onto school’s campuses rater than at the neutral sites where they are played today.

The new cycle of BCS begins in 2014 which is the earliest that the change could most likely occur. One of the driving forces behind the idea is the poor attendance that many of these Bowls and would call for on-campus games after the top 16 games are filled. Also under consideration would be requiring a minimum of seven wins to be bowl eligible.

Facebook revenue absent in the mobile space
As Facebook opens its books in advance of its $5 billion IPO a number of interesting facts have emerged about the company. It has obviously seen very strong growth since its inception and now has $3.7 billion in revenue.

Oddly enough none of this revenue, zero, comes from the mobile users of the social media. With 425 million of its 845 million users accessing the site via a mobile device this is astounding. However it shows that there is huge room for revenue growth for the company.

As reported at Forbes, Facebook said that it is devoting substantial resources to expanding its platform in the mobile space and seeks to create engaging mobile products. The company said that it anticipates mobile users’ rate growth to outpace its overall growth rate.

Feds keep pressure on illegal Super Bowl streamers
For the second year in a row the US Government has cracked down on a number of sites that provide sports streaming and has taken control of their domain names. Users heading to those sites will get a redirect notice from the DOJ/ICE.

Among the sites included are, and and as reported by Torrent Freak this is the second time around for the Feds to shut down sports streaming sites just prior to the Super Bowl, although some sites are already back up under slightly different incarnations.

The shutdown struck at least 307 domain names and the effort was called ‘Operation Fake Sweep’ with the bulk of the sites charged with selling fake NFL merchandise and only 16 for illegally streaming sports video.

AMD to enter tablet and Ultrabook space
AMD introduced analysts at its annual meeting to its newest processor roadmap that will include a pair of low powered chips that will target the tablet space and showed an Ultrabook design that looks to undercut Intel’s offerings in hat space.

According to EETimes coverage of the event AMD has added Hondo, a 40 nm processor for tablets due this year and plans to follow up with Temash, a 28 nm chip next year. The company has been slow to enter this space but its rivals here are more from ARM-based chips and the OMAP processors from Texas Instruments, Intel has been slow to make headway in this area as well.

AMD showed an Ultrabook that was developed by Taiwanese company Compal using AMD’s Trinity chip in a thin an ultrabook reference design made by Taiwan’s Compal. It said that the computer could have a $599 price tag, possibly starting a price war with developers using Intel’s developers ultrabooks.

Intel the Latest to Create Mobility App Fund

The company has a strong history of focusing funds on specific markets

Intel has created a $100 million investment fund called AppUp Fund that invests in a range of mobile companies and has already helped provide financing to two startups, 4tiitoo and Urban Airship. The fund will invest not only in app developers but also middleware, mobile infrastructure, and digital content.

Intel has created several funds such as this over the years including its $500 million Communications fund formed in 1999 and its recently formed $300 million Ultrabook fund. The funds are managed by Intel Capital.

Of course Intel is not just investing in any company. The ones that will get its blessing, and funding, are ones that advance the Intel architecture, something that is increasingly important for the company as it continues to see important platforms and products being built using processors from rivals such as ARM.

Just One of Many Players in Fund Space

There are other efforts at funding startups, and the number is growing with companies seeking to fund everything from efforts to create apps for a specific operating system like Android, or social media platforms like Facebook, and increasingly just to push the overall market.

There is the App Fund from VezTek that seeks to bring investors and inventors together, United Holdings Group’s Mobile App Fund that offers between $5,000 to $500,000 for developers in a range of mobile spaces from Enterprise, small business, B2B as well as social media and collaborative entertainment.

The Founders Fund and Accel Partners, original funders of Facebook, launched a $10 million fund in 2007 called the FBFund, although it is run a bit differently than others with Facebook executives participating in the vetting process.

First two Investments

One of the first two companies that have received undisclosed funding from Intel is Urban Airship, a Portland, Ore. developer of a platform that enables developers and publishers to target specific market segments with push notifications, subscriptions and geo-location info.

The second, with the snappy name of 4tiitoo, was founded in 2007 in Germany and is an open source developer that already has experience working with Intel. It developed the WeTab OS that is based on the MeeGo technology that was jointly developed by Intel, Nokia and the open source community. It is currently working on software solutions across all system layers from kernel development up to application development.

The amount of funding shows just how important major companies and venture capital firms see the emerging mobile app and social app markets. Expect this to lead to new innovations and a new generation of programs that can enhance all aspects of the user and business experience as related to the mobile space.