Friday Grab Bag: ESPN Gets US Open, Qualcomm Adds Kaspersky

The dangers of getting malware and viruses on Android devices could be lessened greatly due to a deal that has Qualcomm preloading security firm Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security products into Qualcomm’s silicon that is used to power over a 1,000 different smartphones.

According to Kaspersky the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor can be found in 770 commercially available or announced products as well as in another 550 products that are in some stage of the product design pipeline.

ESPN Gets US Open

ESPN has once again expanded its tennis coverage with the signing of an 11-year deal with the USTA, taking the coverage away from long time USTA broadcast partner CBS. The $770 million deal will start in 2015.

This deal will move the entire tournament to cable after an over the air broadcast run on CBS that started in 1968. CBS will be broadcasting the next two tournaments before its current contract expires.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone making market gains
Microsoft’s Windows Phone is slowly gaining a stronger position in the overall handset market and according to the latest numbers from market research firm International Data Corp. (as reported by Pocket-Lint) it has now passed the BlackBerry OS and moved into third place.

The leader, by a hefty margin, is the Android operating system, which has a 75% market share in the first quarter of 2013 followed by Apple’s iOS which has a 17.3% market share. Windows has 3.2% while BlackBerry has 2.9%.

Will Microsoft remake Windows RT
PC World has an interesting piece on the future of Windows RT, the alternative to Windows 8 for tablet users in the Microsoft world. Met with at best lackluster acceptance, analysts are saying the OEM pricing has to drop and the focus needs fine tuning.

Microsoft has said that it has no intention of killing the platform, which it is positioning as an alternative to the Android and Apple iOS platforms for users that do not want the Windows option either. However right now Apple still has a great deal of cache in the market while Android is offered for free so developers can easily undercut Windows RT devices.

Google announces streaming music service
In case you were out of touch this week Google held its annual Google I/O conference and there was a host of announcements that burst forth from the event. Probably the one that held the most interest is the unveiling of its streaming music service.

The Google Play All Music Access service is expected to rival an expected one from Apple as well as existing ones such as Spotify. It has many features similar to what Pandora offers including a thumb up or down on songs and the ability to load in your own music. It will have a $9.99 monthly fee.

Windows “Blue” due next month

The upgrade to Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, version 8.1 and commonly called Windows Blue, will be previewed on June 26 and will be available for free to over 100 million registered users of Windows 8.

USGA Continues Pioneering Online Coverage of U.S. Open

Eleven years ago, as the U.S. Open forged into its second century, the United States Golf Association simultaneously catapulted into new media technology.

It was only one hole with one announcer at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. But the occasion — live streaming (webcasting) — was a gateway for fans who weren’t in attendance or watching on television to still view the country’s national championship.

“The technology was there, but no one in sports at that particularly time was doing a webcast, especially at the major event like the U.S. Open,” said Bill Lacey, USGA Manager of Digital Media Development. “We had great fan appeal and that’s what led to the first webcast.

“The reason it was one hole and one announcer? It was all new to us. We were learning the technology. It was on the fly, basically. It was the USGA dipping our toes in the water.”

The first webcast, while experimental, occurred at the par-3, 175 6th hole of the 101st U.S. Open. The announcer was Roger Twibell, and the new adventure worked.

“We had about 200,000 streams, and we felt like it was an affirmation that this was something,” said Jessica Carroll, the USGA Managing Director of Information Technology and Digital Media, of the initial webcast.

Video streaming of the U.S. Open has steadily expanded since its debut. Two holes with two announcers were involved for two years, then bonus coverage on certain holes was featured.

Five years ago, “marquee” coverage of certain groups of golfers began. In 2008, for the Monday 18-hole playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines near San Diego, Calif., the site’s live stream “broke the Internet,” according to Lacey.

“We did 650,000 concurrent streams,” he said. “And basically one of the Internet backbone providers went offline the traffic was so heavy.”

Now, online audiences for golf are big and getting bigger, with the PGA claiming a half-million to a million streams for each one of the tournaments it operates its Live@ bonus coverage. The USGA, Carroll said, is seeing similar growth in online video consumption.

“Overall, if we’re looking at the broad spectrum, it’s just a constant upstream,” she said. “I don’t remember specific numbers from last year, but this year we’re up 100 percent.”

The second and final day of online-only marquee group coverage of this year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco is scheduled at 7:44 a.m. and 1:18 p.m. Friday (both Pacific Time). The morning time will feature the group of Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell. The afternoon threesome will be Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson. The online coverage is also available via the U.S. Open mobile device app, in either the Android or Apple iOS version.

It’s yet to be determined what, if any, online coverage will be over the weekend. But according to the USGA, the big online watchers are those still at their own offices during the workweek.

“Our audience is really an audience at work; they don’t have access,” said Lacey. “They’re in their offices and they can’t watch the U.S. Open. But it’s going on while they are working. We went to where they are. They’re at their desks and we stream right to their desks.”

The U.S. Open is currently the only USGA event with a webcast. And while there are no current plans for additional events, it’s inevitable with continued increased Internet viewership and the advancement of other social media applications.

“When the stream goes on, people are staying on,” said Carroll. “It’s almost like they want to spend the day with us. They really stick with it. I think that’s just kind of an interesting concept. They become part of the U.S. Open experience, even though they’re not physically here.”

James Raia is a California-based journalist who writes about sports and leisure. Visit his golf site at

Early Thursday U.S. Open Coverage of Tiger-Phil-Bubba Group Only Available Online

Getting psyched to watch the incredible first-round pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson Thursday at the U.S. Open? If so you better have an Internet connection or a smartphone with a good cell signal, because the first 90 minutes of that group’s play will only be available online or through the USGA’s mobile app.

Though there’s going to be a ton of regular TV coverage of the Open this week, first from ESPN on Thursday and Friday and then NBC on the weekend, it’s kind of cool that the somewhat staid USGA (an organization that bans cell phones on the course during tournament play) is highlighting its digital chops in this manner.

Starting a 7:33 a.m. Pacific time from the No. 9 tee at the Olympic Club, you can watch Tiger, Phil and Bubba only at or via the U.S. Open Golf Championship app, which is available for iPhones and iPads and Android devices. The live online TV at the Open is powered technically by IBM, the same folks who are the technical brains behind the Masters’ excellent online coverage.

“Mobile is an increasingly strategic part of our marketing strategy,” said Joe Goode, managing director of communications for the USGA. “It’s an interesting group and for the first round and the apps will be the only way to watch the first 90 minutes.”

The online coverage of the marquee group will continue throughout their round, so you can keep watching online if you can’t get to a TV screen when ESPN comes on live at 9 a.m.

AP: Phil Texted Commissioner About… Too Many Cell Phones on the Course

The Associated Press is reporting today that Phil Mickelson sent PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a text during last Thursday’s opening round of the Memorial, complaining about the fans’ unruly use of digital devices. From the AP story:

According to four people with direct knowledge, Mickelson sent a text message to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem from the sixth fairway at Muirfield Village suggesting that a lack of policing fans with cellphones was getting out of hand.

The story raises a bunch of questions — hey, are golfers going to be like NASCAR drivers, tweeting from the course? — and also (as GigaOM’s Stacey H says) ignores the obvious irony, that Mickelson is using a cell phone to complain about people using cell phones.

We expect to hear more about this bubbling issue at the press conferences for the U.S. Open next week. Should be interesting to see how big tour sponsor AT&T feels about all this, too. But from the last part of Doug Ferguson’s report it may be that only a little bit better policing is how to solve the problem:

Banning the policy isn’t an option. The tour is moving forward in the digital age with programs to enhance the gallery’s experience. Plus, the increase in attendance has been tangible this year. Nowadays, if fans can’t bring their phones, they’re more likely not to come at all.

The solution is to add security or volunteers to the two or three marquee pairings, and to take away phones from fans caught taking pictures (giving them a claim check to retrieve the phone at the end of the day). That’s what happened on Friday, and there were no big incidents the rest of the way.

UPDATE: It appears the commish is saying cell phones will stay, for now. Read this story over at Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which tracked Finchem down at a Pro-Am and asked him about the controversy.

USGA Debuts Redesigned Going Mobile Website for U.S. Open at The Olympic Club

Watching the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in mid-June is the best way to see the world’s best golfers compete for the country’s national championship. But as with any major, only a small percentage of the tournament’s fans will see the event in person.

Which, of course, is why the United States Golf Association (USGA) launched the redesigned official website of the 112th U.S. Open Championship scheduled at iconic Lake Shore course in San Francisco, June 14-17.

The new is powered by IBM’s cloud computing technology and includes features such as live-streaming video, live scoring, interactive PlayTracker and access to Web and mobile applications.

“We set out to create a multi-functional, easy-to-use website that will provide the outstanding digital experience that fans of the U.S. Open have come to expect,” said Sarah Hirshland, senior managing director, business affairs for the USGA. “With superb photography and video, compelling articles and enhanced interactivity, extends beyond the desktop to bring the championship experience to the user.” IBM is also the technical brains behind the online presentation of the Masters.

With an emphasis on bringing the U.S. Open experience to users around the world, the site features real-time scoring, live high-definition (HD) video streaming, interactive play tracking and the Virtual U.S. Open, which allows fans to experience each hole at The Olympic Club.

Complete coverage of U.S. Open sectional qualifying, expanded social-media capabilities and enhanced near-time photo viewing are among the upgrades for 2012.

The official 2012 U.S. Open mobile application for Android and iPhone devices will be available for download on June 1.

Like, the app’s tablet-friendly design will provide access to live HD video streaming, news, photos, real-time scoring and Twitter feeds.

The 2012 will feature:

Sectional qualifying (June 4) with scoring, images and articles from all qualifying sites; PicStream Photos; PlayTracker, interactive leader board; Enhanced course profile of the Lake Course at the Olympic Club; Select television HD live streaming and ESPN Radio streaming; Social media updates via Twitter (@usopengolf) and #usopengolf) and via Facebook (

Additionally, fans can virtually play holes at The Olympic Club with players who make the cut with a chance to attend the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. for players who make the cut.

And, finally, beginning June 4, for the U.S. Open, live video, photos, real-time scoring and tweets on Android, iPhone and tablet devices as well as stream radio and social media to interact with ESPN Radio analysts will begin.