Friday Grab Bag: Fenway Boots, Fox vs. ESPN

Nokia is starting to sound like a punch line from a Monty Python movie “I’m not dead yet.” While many have given up on the company it is still churning out products and is expected to unveil its first tablet later this month.

According to Yahoo a Nokia tablet has passed FCC approval and the company, soon to be owned my Microsoft, plans to show a tablet that will run a version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system at an event in Abu Dhabi.

The difference between ESPN and Fox Sports Live
The good folks at the Sports Business Daily have broken down the difference between the two sports broadcasters, looking at how each o them present the biggest sporting events of the day, using last Monday night as the benchmark.

Not surprisingly ESPN led off with the NFL Monday night game that it had just concluded broadcasting while Fox focused on the MLB playoffs. As usual ESPN pretty much ignored hockey.

L.L. Bean makes Fenway Park boots
LL Bean now has something that only a die hard Red Sox fan could want, boots that are made, in part, from the tarp that was used to cover the field at Fenway Park during the 2012 season. 100 pairs are expected to be produced.

However the made to order boots are not available on a first come/first serve basis. The company is having fans visit Facebook/LL Bean site and share their favorite moments for a chance to win with 50 selected at random. There are additional avenues a fan can enter, to be announced at a later date.

Nike sets date for NikeFuel Forum
If you are an athlete, or maybe not one, but use the NikeFuel band to track you exercise and caloric output you will be happy to know that the company will be hosting an event in New York City that will discuss how it sees the digital world and physical activity merging.

This market, slow to emerge over the last few years has really jump-started with the news of wearable appliances such as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and rumored other smartwatches as well as the Google Glass and rival efforts. It will be interesting to see how the company plans to compete going forward.

McAfee to deliver device that thwarts NSA?
Antivirus developer John McAfee has a new target in sight, preventing the NSA or any agency from snooping on your online activities. He has developed a product that he calls “Decentral” to do this.

The small device can be used with smartphones and other mobile devices to create a type of mobile network that cannot be penetrated by government surveillance. He said it will cost around $100.

New iPad to outsell last edition?

With Apple’s newest iPads expected to be unveiled in the near future analysts are back predicting how sales will be and KGI is saying that the new iPad 5 will far out pace the new iPad Minis, at least initially.

Market research firm KGI has said that it expects about 10 million iPad 5s sold in the fourth quarter compared to 2 million Minis. There has been a great deal of speculation that the Mini production is slow getting going and that supplies will be limited.

Nike Updates FuelBand iOS App


Nike has enhanced its popular iOS FuelBand app, moving the program into the realm of social media with greater hooks so that athletes that use the FuelBand can now quickly and easily share their activities.

The primary addition is the ability to directly post to Facebook, a move that now provides users with three alternatives when seeking to share results and compete with friends: Facebook, Nike+ and Contacts.

However the update has more than just the ability to share your latest accomplishments in the fitness arena, it also allows for customized photo sharing as well as a number of associated features such as location-tagged images.

The programs, which also enable commenting and other activities comes after Facebook made changes that opened its platform up to more fitness apps and allowed for the more easily sharing of data and images.

For those that have forgotten the FuelBand is a device that tracks users’ activities and is designed for them to set and track goals. Nike has been working to expand the apps and usages for its Nike+ platform, although Android users are still waiting for advances on that platform.

GPS Developer TomTom Set to Deliver Two Sports Watches


TomTom has delivered a pair of GPS-based sports watches, one that is focused primarily on runners while the other is designed for a more multi sports approach that should appeal to a much broader range of athletes.

The company had two design goals win mind when they built the TomTom Runner and the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS sport watches. It believes that most existing watches in this field are too bulky and cumbersome and so sought to shrink the size and make it a slim, easily worn device. At the same time it was seeking to use a large display to show the graphical training tools. It believes that it reached both of these goals as well as simplifying the use of the watch with its one button control.

The watches are both built on TomTom’s Graphical Training Partner, a program that allows users to track vital statics in real time. It has three basic modes: Race, Goal and Zone. Race allows you to vie against a recently set time or your personal best. Goal allows you to set a number of parameters such as time, distance or calorie and then track how you are doing against your goals. Zone has users set targets such as pace or heart rate and then allows you to track your progress during a workout. A heart monitor for this is an option.

Among the watches other features are an indoor tracker to so that a user can track activity on devices such as a treadmill; QuickGPSFix uses GPS and GLONASS satellite technology to quickly find users’ precise location.

Since many runners and other athletes already often use other apps to track and share progress the watches have the multi-platform compatability and can sync with a variety of alterative platforms including the TomTom MySports website, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal

All of these and other features are standard in both watches while the TomTom Multi-Sport also allows multi-sport athletes to track their distance, time, speed and other key metrics when they cycle or swim and includes a built-in altimeter and a bike mount.

Last year TomTom teamed with Nike for a GPS watch and it ran Nike Fuel but it is not clear if this one will also support Nike’s platform.

The TomTom Runner and TomTom Multi-Sport will be available in Summer 2013. The market for sports watches is a fairly crowded one, and one that will get even more packed if all of the rumored hybrid smartwatches that have been reported from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft and others actually do come to market. I expect that including all of the ones that have appeared on Kickstarter their will be a glut on the market of these types of devices and users should spend some time considering how and when they plan to use such devices to see what will best fit their needs.

Nike Takes Next Step in Digital Apps with Nike + Accelerator


Last year Nike introduced the Nike + platform and NikeFuel, and activity measurement technology that allows athletes to track their results in real time. Now the company has reached out to expand this effort with the Nike + Accelerator program that will bring in third party developers into the fold.

Nike is working with TechStars, a company that assists startup tech companies in raising seed money, connection to venture capital firms and angel investors as well as providing mentoring services to its clients.

Nike has selected ten companies as partners in the Nike + Accelerator program and will work with them in a three month program designed to help develop new products and services that are focused around the Nike + platform. Nike is seeking to have a broad focus in this program, looking for apps and development in areas such as training, coaching, gaming, sport and wellness.

Each of the ten companies selected will receive assistance in a variety of forms starting with $20,000 in funding. Nike, and others, will also provide mentoring for the companies including app developers, VC funding managers and company executives with 30 mentors available.

The Nike + Accelerator program is expected to end in mid-June and at that time Nike host an Investor Demo Days event at its headquarters during which the companies will have the opportunity to pitch potential investors including Nike for additional funds and partnerships. There will be Demo Days held both at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. and in Silicon Valley.

The ten companies are:
FitDeck: Digital decks of exercise playing cards that deliver ever-changing workouts for fitness and sports.

GoRecess: Helps users find, book and review fitness activities. An indie game studio that creates virtual worlds tied to real-world activity.

CoachBase: Provides a digital sports coaching platform.

GoFitCause: Leverages fitness data as a means of raising money for charities.

HighFive: Ad network for health and fitness apps that helps people achieve their goals by rewarding them along their journey.

Sprout At Work: Provider of corporate wellness solutions leveraging social and gamification tools to inspire employees and empower employers.

GeoPalz: An interactive gaming and rewards platform for kids and families.

Incomparable Things: Creates activity-driven fantasy sports leagues.

RecBob: Offers a platform that makes recreational sports easy by organizing play.

It will be interesting to see if we get true differentiated apps from this push. If so that will likely to encourage others to follow Nike’s footsteps, or for those that already have some form of app developer program to ramp it up another level.

Friday Grab Bag: Samsung to Launch 4 Tablets at MWC?

Microsoft had less than stellar numbers with its Surface RT tablet but now it’s time to see how well it will do focusing more on its basic operating system. The Surface Windows 8 Pro is expected to be released Feb. 8, an interesting choice since the first quarter of the year is traditionally the slowest time in consumer electronics retail sales.

The first tablet from Microsoft in this branch of the Surface family is designed to be integrated into a corporate infrastructure and has wider browser support than the RT version, which only had Internet Explorer support. The Surface Pro will be powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, dual band Wi-Fi, dual 720p HD webcams, a full-sized USB 3.0 port, microSDXC slot, and mini DisplayPort. The 64GB version will list for $899 and the 128GB for $999. The tablets will be available from Microsoft’s retail stores as well as from Staples and Best Buy.

Amazon adds speech-recognition developer Ivona Software to its portfolio
Amazon has announced that it has purchased text-to-speech technology developer Ivona Software. The terms of the acquisition were not revealed. Amazon has a history with the company as Ivona already has a number of features that are included in Amazon’s products including the “Text-to-Speech,” “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” features on Kindle Fire tablets.

Ivona is a 10-year-old company that currently has voice and language technology that includes 44 voices and support for 17 languages. Founded as IVO Software in 2001 by Łukasz Osowski and Michał Kaszczuk, a pair of graduates from the Gdansk University of Technology, they remain active in the company.

Samsung looks to have a busy Mobile World Congress with 4 new tablets

According to a report from SamMobile that was repeated in Tech Digest, Samsung will unveil four tablets at the show in Barcelona next month. Leading off will be the Galaxy Tab 3, with a 7-inch and 10.1-inch member of the family. These are expected to have 3G and Wi-Fi versions.

Then there is the already reported Galaxy Note 8, code-named Kona, also in 3G and Wi-Fi versions and it will be available in 16GB and 32GB versions. The last model, and the one with the fewest details is a high end model code-named Roma that is reported to have 16GB and 32GB versions.

Apple’s earnings disappoints Wall Street
It always seems odd to write a headline like that when a company posts record revenue and sales, but then it is not me who was disappointed. For Apple’s first quarter 2013, which ended Dec. 29, 2012 it posted quarterly revenue of $54.5 billion and a quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion.

It sold a record 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter, up from the same quarter a year ago when it sold 37 million. It also sold a record number of iPads, hitting the 22.9 million mark, compared to 15.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

Nike teams up for tradition post-holiday drive with Lose It!
As anyone who has gone to the gym after New Years knows, it is now the season to lose all of the weight that somehow managed to tag along for the ride amid the Egg Nogs and holiday cheer.

The Lose It! App is now connected to the Nike+ API and so users of NikeFuel can integrated data between the two. Lose It! Is designed to be set up as a personalized weight loss program that helps users by not only tracking calories but offering healthy choices in their diet.

Users can earn back calories into their daily diet with a seamless connection between the user’s NikeFuel and their daily calorie budget. The Nike+ FuelBand connection is available for free to all existing and new Lose It! users who have a Nike+ FuelBand. New users can join Lose It! at or by downloading the Lose It! app from iTunes or Google Play.

Nike Launches New Runners’ App after it Reengineers its Running Site

If you are a runner and like to share your information there always seems to be a new app around the corner designed to do just that. However a new app that has been released might have an advantage over many of its rivals in that the company that developed it, Nike, might have made the shoes you are running in. For that matter they may have made your entire outfit.

The company has launched an app called Nike Running App for Android that among its other features can link runners into the site that the company has redesigned prior to the release of the program.
In many ways the app does just what you would expect, and want, from a runners’ app. It tracks performance, provides easy access to running statistics, has an in-run navigation system with a GPS map as well as provide the sound track for your runs.

It enables a user to connect directly to Facebook or Twitter and provide run summaries that can include shoes used, terrain and total mileage. The GPS feature also records the weather for runners based on location.

The site claims 7 million runners and the redesign was enacted in order to make it more digitally friendly, with much more of a social media focus, according to Nike as well as becoming a motivational tool for the runners. The key feature to motivate is called “Next Moves” that presents a range of challenges for the runner and then provides a dynamic bar showing how well the runner has performed on the challenges.

When I was looking at the Nike web site I was surprised at how many people I knew were registered, including one person that I would have bet only ran when they heard the bell from the ice cream truck out in front of their house. So maybe the motivational messages really work!