Friday Grab Bag: ESPN’s Open Coverage, Dell Smartwatch?

The Guardian is reporting that Dell could be the latest to throw its hat into the ring with a smartwatch offering. Dell’s global vice president of personal computing told the paper that it was exploring ideas in the wearable computing space.

With Apple, Samsung, Google and just about every major player in consumer electronics and/or computing it is no surprise. The Kickstarter success story Pebble and its smartwatch has to be something that everybody is watching. The company was oversubscribed as it sought funding with $10 million pledged and an exclusive deal with Best Buy with a preorder of 85,000 watches.

ESPN to broadcast The Open Championship
If you are hoping to catch a few rounds of the 142nd Open Championship, golf’s oldest major, you are in luck as ESPN will be broadcasting all four days next week from July 18-21.

The network will be reaching out to fans not only via live television broadcasts and encore presentations but also live radio, and a range of digital offerings for computers, tablets and other mobile devices. It will also be using digital technology to enhance its broadcasts with technologies such as Flight Tracker.

[Editor’s note: You can also follow via The Open’s own app, online at The Open’s website and on social media like twitter. Go to The Open website for all info.]

Microsoft to slash Surface RT prices?
The Verge is reporting that Microsoft will be cutting the price of its entry level 32GB Surface RT tablet down to $350 with the version with the Touch Cover keyboard will be $450 as will the 64GB Surface RT without the cover and $550 with the cover.

The news comes as reports are also emerging that the company has an additional two more Surface tablets on the drawing board that it will release sometime in 2014. ZDNet reported that a recently seen Microsoft roadmap includes the tablets as well as a host of additional offerings from the company ranging from an Windows Office App Store to enhanced Skype support.

Apple Store hits 5th Anniversary
The Apple App Store, now no longer a pawn in a patent battle, also had other news this week as it celebrated its 5th year in business providing apps and tools, initially for the iPhone but now also includes apps for the iPad as well.

The success for the store can be seen in the fact that the number of apps it offers has grown from 500 at birth to approximately 900,000 now. There has been over 50 billion app downloads in the five years.

Google updates maps app
Most people I know use Google Maps on a regular basis and they will be happy to hear that not only has the company updated the program but made it faster as well, a common complaint. The company has made the Android updates available now with iPhone and iPad updates coming soon.

It has navigation features that include warnings for bad conditio0ns on a trip including accidents, offline map saving and better exploration features according to an early review in The New York Times.

New York Times Hosts Google+ Hangout with Olympic Athletes — Carmelo and Chris Paul up Tonight

Yes, it’s going to be a social media Olympics — and the fun is starting well before the games kick off later this month. This afternoon the New York Times will hold its first of a series of Google+ hangouts with Olympic athletes, with USA Basketball players Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul interacting live starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

While the mainstream golf media gave superstar Tiger Woods a hard time for hosting similar online interactive activities, it will be interesting to see how the Olympic-athlete ones unfold, since (other than the NBA stars) Olympic athletes by and large are removed from our general attention during the time between Olympics. Plus fans of the more obscure sports probably know more than most sportswriters, so maybe there will be some good questions and discussions generated.

Why Do Some People Still Question Twitter?

I still encounter people that say that Twitter is a fad, and will soon pass. I imagine that some day it will be relegated to the technology trash bin as so many technologies have, but I doubt that is in its near future.

Last Saturday while watching a football game at the local pub the person next to me proclaimed that only narcissist movie stars and athletes used it. Aside from being amazed that he knew what narcissist meant, I was a bit surprised since it has become so prevalent. But his opinion is one that I still hear, although less and less, but even MIT linguist Noam Chomsky recently blasted social media as “superficial, shallow evanescent”

This doubting just goes in the face of the rising tide that is Twitter. Just this week the New York Times ran a piece on how the Republican Party has embraced Twitter as a tool for the next presidential election after dismissing it as unimportant in 2008 at a time when the Democrats had adopted the technology.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said a week ago that it is now seeing 250 million tweets a day, up from 100 million at the start of the year. During an interview at Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco he also said that the company now has 100 million users, with half logging in every day.

CNBC has a brief article, or rather a dreaded slide show, called the world’s 10 most tweeted moments. The article does not state where the info comes from or why it said that when the news of Steve Jobs death broke it averaged 6,000 tweets a second but that did not make the top ten, and then goes and lists others with less tweets per second in the top 10 list.

Still the list provides a good look at what people find the most interesting/important news and events to tweet, with natural disasters and sports being the clear cut leaders. While an outsider might think that most tweeting is done by athletes, politicians and movie stars the huge numbers that are generated, and their global aspect, show how ubiquitous this technology is becoming, and according to the article there are roughly 5 billion tweets a month already.

The list starts with Osama Bin Laden’s death at #10 with 5,106 tweets per second and then in descending order includes the East Coast Earthquake, last game of the 2011 NBA finals, Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Champion League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United, 2011 BET Awards, New Years Day in Japan 2011, Brazil eliminated from Copa America, and the FIFA Women’s Cup.

The top tweeting event, I have to admit, caught me by surprise. It was Beyonce revealing her baby bump at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2011, with 8,868 tweets per second. Of course considering that she has roughly 2 million followers on Twitter that should probably be no surprise.

Still sports is hugely represented, and Twitter clearly understands its importance to sports and vice versus. It has published a guide on how to use the technology and pointed out best practices from teams that have already embraced the technology. A look at what the company can be read in a nice piece written in MSR by John Evan Frook.

When you look at the numbers from the CNBC piece the first few are fairly close and then it starts to spike upward, with the numbers growing at a fairly rapid pace. The growth has no real time line as some of the higher tweeting events are early in the year

I think that it is a fairly safe prediction that within a year, most if not all of these numbers will be crushed by newer events such as the Superbowl, the BCS Championship game, election news and the natural disaster of the day. The list shows that the technology has a broad, deep and growing appeal with strong hooks in both world events and sports, both local and world. Anybody or organization ignoring this risks marginalizing themselves to important segments of the public.