Spiking the Surface: Why Microsoft’s NFL deal got thrown for a loss

Bill Belichick’s very thorough takedown of the Microsoft Surface slapped a fried egg on the face of Microsoft’s $400 million deal with the NFL to use the tablets on game-day sidelines. In the latest STADIUM TECH REPORT PODCAST, co-hosts Phil Harvey and Paul Kapustka explore why the deal was flawed from the beginning, and whether or not wireless technology can be counted on to perform in NFL sideline environments.


Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes!

Microsoft Signs Deal that Brings Interactive Viewing to the NFL


Microsoft will soon be a presence on the field and in your home as part of the NFL game-watching experience as the team has joined with the league to provide interactive viewing capabilities to fans in a 5-year deal that is estimated to bring an additional $400 million to the NFL’s coffers.

There is a catch of sorts, you need to be viewing using Microsoft’s Xbox One game console or another device that features Xbox Live. For the fans that have that technology they can now permit users to have split screens that show stats, fantasy football team data and game highlights in real time, among other things.

It will also support Skype so that fans can be using the same device to watch games as well as chat with other fans or friends during the game. Other features include access to the NFL’s RedZone and replays from a matchup. Also if a user has a second screen or mobile device they can have additional information sent to that device simultaneously as when they are viewing on the Xbox One.

The deal could lead to another solid plus for Microsoft. Over the last few years a number of teams in the National Football League have talked about their use of Apple’s iPads as a training tool and a superior replacement to the traditional binders that had been in use for decades. However it now looks like Microsoft has taken a night march on Apple and inked a deal with the league that will call for the Microsoft Surface tablet to be used on all the teams’ sidelines.

While this is still in an area that the league is investigating the Surface tablet would be used to provide up to the minute information about looks and formations that other teams are using during games. Players viewing printouts and pictures of formations could be a thing of the past as they instead watch plays on a tablet on the sidelines. Referees will not be left out of the action as it could become the key viewing tool for replays and challenge calls.

Friday Grab Bag: Unhappy iPad Users? Is Facebook Home Dead Already?

Will Microsoft buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook Business?
The rumor has once again emerged that Microsoft is looking at buying Barnes & Noble’s Nook business unit, a unit that Microsoft has already invested $300 million. TechCrunch is now reporting that it has internal documents that show that indeed the software giant is pondering such a move.

The cost is approximately $1 billion, which would also include Nook Media and related digital business operations. The documents show that Barnes & Noble is considering discontinuing its Android-based tablets next year.

Apple Patents invisible buttons
As smartphone users seemingly are demanding additional functionality with each new release of their favorite handset product designers are faced with the classic issue of form or functionality. Now Apple has patented a technology that seems to solve the issue by enabling fully functioning buttons and sliders that are not visible.

If you are wondering how you would use invisible items, they are not always hidden from the eye, but would appear when you motion towards them, according to a piece on them in Geek Newsletter.

Is Facebook’s Home burning down?
A few weeks ago amid a great deal of hype Facebook offered its latest and greatest mobile offering, Facebook Home. If you missed the announcement it was the debut of a smartphone, and a related app for owners of alternative Android devices, which made Facebook your smartphone start screen.

The HTC First was the first smartphone to come with the technology as standard and it was available from AT&T for $99. It has been apparently been met by a universal shrug of the shoulders by users, which had led AT&T to drop the price of the phone a bit, to 99 cents! Salon gives a good look at how far and fast this technology has dropped.

Amazon to offer smartphone with 3D display?
The Wall Street Journal is reporting (via C/Net) that Amazon is working on a pair of smartphones and that one of the two will have a 3D capability that will enable hologram like images. However the article made clear that the smartphones might never see the loght of day.

Amazon is increasingly delving into the hardware space starting with its popular Kindle tablet. While the rest is rumor, so far, it sounds like a set top box and the aforementioned smartphones are also in the works.

Google Glass takes another hit.
In case you missed the send up on Saturday Night Live you can look here but real world resistance to Google Glass technology is also continuing to rise. A nice piece in the New York Times outlines some of the major Pros and Cons of the technology.

We have always wondered how Las Vegas would deal with the glasses, and the NYT is of the opinion they will be banned, an opinion backed by Caesars Entertainment statement that they would be prohibited. However it is estimated that the glasses could generate upwards to $#500 billion for Google.

Bill Gates chimes in on iPad
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recently spoke with CNBC and said that iPad users are frustrated with the lack of keyboard and because there is no Microsoft Office app for that platform that they will migrate to PC Tablets.

As can be noted in the Guardian’s coverage of his statements so Apple has sold an estimated 141 million iPads to unhappy users while the happy Microsoft Surface users have already swarmed the stores for an estimated 2 million units. Of course the Surface is still relatively new so we will see what the future brings.

Friday Grab Bag: A Wave of Phablets in the Future?

Is Windows 8 driving Mac sales?
You have probably looked at a Surface tablet by now and pondered how the new operating system, Windows 8, actually works, since it is very different than previous incarnations of the OS. Now people are coming out and claiming that the remade operating system is driving customers to rival platforms.

ZDNet is reporting that two of Microsoft’s OEMs have reported that they believe that the new operating system is to blame for the decline in PC sales and that it has actually driven users to buy systems from rival Apple. Microsoft does have a major update to the OS in the works and it will be interesting to see if it is a major update or a turn back the clock move.

Analyst expect lower cost iPhone to sell like hot cakes.
C/Net is reporting that Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray is predicting that a low cost iPhone, widely expected to be available later this year, will cause iPhone sales to explode going forward and into next year.

He predicts the low cost phone will be available in September in the $300 range, unsubsidized, and that while it would cannibalize sales of the higher end, more expensive phones the volume would be worth it. He projects that the company could sell as many as 75 million iPhones in 2014 and start to dominate in the mid-range section of the smartphone market.

Samsung to face increased competition in phablet space

Does BlackBerry have a phablet in the works?

BlackBerry is the latest to have a phablet, which is a smartphone with a large display, rumored to be in the works. The company has been on a more positive road this year with growing acceptance of its BlackBerry 10 and increased sales.

Now analysts expect the company to expand the handset lineup later this year with at least two possible additional models, according to Digital Trends. One of the rumored devices would be a hybrid that would have a 5-inch display while another would be a mid-range version of the existing model.

Nokia also about to toss hat into phablet space?
Nokia is another smartphone developer that is now being reported as preparing to enter the large form factor smartphone space according to Tech Radar via the Financial Times. While the report clams that the forthcoming device will be technically superior to the Samsung Galaxy Note it did not include any features to use for comparison.

Microsoft hints at 7-inch tablet
The rumor mill continues to heat up with reports that Microsoft is planning on a 7-inch tablet later this week. According to Business Insider outgoing Microsoft CFO Peter Klein said that the company has a small touch device that it will be releasing soon. Of course this could be another smartwatch as well, something that the company is also rumored to be working on.

Friday Grab Bag: Microsoft Goes Small and MLB hits it Big

People seem drawn to March Madness pools like moths to a flame, and this year ESPN’s mammoth pool, 8.15 million strong had a surprise winner, Lanny Kekua. If that name does not ring a bell it is the fake dead girlfriend of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o.

The name was used as an alias by a fan named Craig Gilmore, who won the tournament and successfully selected Louisville to defeat Michigan in the final. He is now entered into a drawing for a $10,000 Best Buy gift card.

Reebok Spartan Race hits the baseball circuit
Last year the Sparta Race held an event at a baseball park, and it proved to be very popular. So this year it is upping the ante and will be holding a series of events at ballyards, and it has announced the first four venues.

Athletes living near The New York Mets’ Citi Field, The Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizen Bank Park, The Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park or The Boston Red Sox Fenway Park can start practicing for the event near you.

Did Windows 8 Launch hurt PC sales?
Market research firm IDC has reported that sales of personal computers continued a downward fall, and is ascribing part of the blame to the latest operating system release from Microsoft, Windows 8. The most recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report shows that in the first quarter of 2013 there was a total average drop in PC shipments of 13.9% compared to the previous quarter.

Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays said that the company’s research showed that not only did Windows 8 not provide the hoped for boost in sales that many had been planning on, it actually served as a major detriment to sales.

At Bat Starts off with hot streak
Major League Baseball’s popular At Bat program for mobile device users has been a hot download at the start of this year’s season. The program surpassed the 4 million download mark last week, five days into the season.

Last year, when the app was also on a record setting pace, it took it 45 days to reach the 4 million milestone. For the year the app was downloaded 6.7 million times in 2012. MLB’s other two major apps At the Ballpark and Beat the Streak had roughly a million additional downloads.

The Rumor Mill

Tom’s Hardware is showing what is reportedly the next generation tablet from Acer, the Iconia tab A1-810 that had been accidentally briefly advertised by a French retailer. The 7.9-inch tablet is said to be powered by a 1.2GHz Cortex A9 processor featuring 1GB of RAM.

Newly leaked images of the forthcoming iPad from Apple appear to show a device that is thinner than previous releases and has reinforced the rumor that Apple is completely redesigning the popular tablet, currently reported to have the name iPad 5.

To the surprise of no one it has been reported that Microsoft has a 7-inch tablet in the works. With the rapidly growing popularity of this form factor a better issue might be what took them so long? The Wall Street Journal, via The Hispanic Business.com said that the tablets are expected to go into production later this year.

Microsoft’s Surface Tablets about to gain Nokia as a Developer?


After lukewarm at best acceptance of its first Windows tablets, the Windows RT line, Microsoft most likely has its collective fingers crossed for the pending release of the Windows Surface Pro line just a bit late this month.

Now it looks like it will have an additional ally to help it gain mind share and market share in the rapidly growing market segment as Nokia has indicated that the company is looking at and possibly reading offerings in that space.

Nokia’s chief executive officer Stephen Elop told the Australian Financial Review that while no formal decision has been made the company “We haven’t announced tablets at this point, but it is something we are clearly looking at very closely. We are studying very closely the market right now as Microsoft has introduced the Surface tablet, so we are trying to learn from that and understand what the right way to participate would be and at what point in time.”

While from reading the interview Elop is happy to provide hints he refuses to be nailed down definitively on the subject, but certainly seems to indicate that a tablet with Windows is in the company’s future. There have been reports in the past that Nokia has a tablet in the works but this is the closest that it has come to actually saying that it is looking seriously into this space.

The company had previously tied its future to Microsoft in the handset market where the once high flying Finnish company has hit upon bad times as it has seen its product sales and revenues hit a steep decline. It has abandoned older operating systems and become a leading Windows Phone developer. Now it appears that it will take an addition step in cementing its partnership with Microsoft by developing tablets.