Top of Mind

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IBM continues to use its sponsorship activities around the Grand Slam tennis events to innovate in the arena of realtime content delivery. Dialing back to the summer of 2009, IBM’s Wimbledon Seer app pushed the envelope by pulling together official tournament news, player tweets and updates, and on-the-ground event logistics and updates in a clever little package for smartphone users. Our only critique after the fact was that the app’s lifespan could easily have extended beyond the duration of the event. With minimal resourcing the app could actually have morphed into a go-to source for tennis info beyond the two-weeks of the tournament by programming content feeds of tennis news and updates (perhaps in partnership with a news provider like ESPN). Instead it idles dormantly on my Blackberry as a nifty little relic.

This January, we’ve downloaded the Australian Open’s iPhone and iPad apps to get the inside scoop on what’s happening Down Under. The Aussie Open app is clearly designed as an armchair companion more than as a tool for event attendees. Logistics and ticketing information is basic with no clear functional benefits for people on the ground (GPS/mapping/ticket availability updates, etc).
The livestream of Australian Open radio is a neat feature (though listening to it while watching ESPN’s North American feed is a little confusing because of the slight time delay).

The killer app, however, which is still in beta, is IBM’s Point Stream app provides realtime data visualizations of the matches. As a companion to the live broadcast it is amazing to see the drama unfold as the two players – one highlighted in yellow, and one in blue – progress through the course of the match. After the fact, the graphic gives a visual snapshot of the match along a timeline with scores highlighted and along the top axis an interactive menu that activates a ‘waterfall’ effect of the key activity in the game: aces, double faults, unforced errors, net points, and break points won and missed. (Australian Open Pointstream)

The practicality of the app for TV viewing is challenging since you have to look away from the on-court action. Better presentation would integrate the graphics window alongside a live streaming video window (possible revenue opportunity for IBM to license this nifty little gadget to whoever owns live streaming rights?). Also as a companion feature for VOD post-match viewing and analysis, Point Stream certainly scores. We only wonder if Rafa and Federer are as gluded to their iPads as we are.

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