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Mobile Inside Out

Chris Dill's picture

The mobile space is on fire. According to Paul Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm-- a company that makes one of the main chipsets for smartphones -- 5 billion cells phone will be sold by 2016. Phones are such an integral part of our everyday life yet we are actually just in the infancy of this growth cycle. Processors continue to get more powerful, applications demand more bandwidth, the screens keep getting better, the cameras are really good, and voice recognition has come on strong. The phone as a banking device is in full swing while the phone as the wallet is coming on slowly and will eventually get there. Others features are coming, going and changing in the evolution.

Wherever you look people have their heads down looking at that little screen -- on the bus, in the subway, before movies, before meetings, in restaurants and living rooms and just about everywhere including sporting events. It’s addictive; we all find ourselves checking it more than we care to admit. What is this great attraction to connectivity and the need for information on demand at our fingertips?

No one leaves home without their phone and wherever we go we expect connectivity. We especially want connectivity when we go to sporting events for texting, calling home to check on the babysitter, checking email and looking at scores around the league. If something crazy happens like the lights go out at the event we may even tweet about it. We certainly would have taken pictures at the half time show in New Orleans to send to friends.

In fact, when it comes to the sports space the mobile usage is growing so fast that the bandwidth is being out stripped at arenas and stadiums across the country. The off- the- charts growth is driving a thriving Wi-Fi and DAS business line, with vendors doing expansions, remodels and new installs. At the Mercedes Stadium in New Orleans for the Super Bowl vendors installed a Wi-Fi system that would support 30,000 concurrent Wi-Fi connections requiring 750 access points. It was just reported by AT&T that 73,000 mobile calls were made during the game over a very beefed up DAS and that total data usage was up 80% from the previous Super Bowl in Indianapolis. If the usage in the stadium went up 80%, imagine the usage outside and around the very connected world we live in on super Sunday.

If you think about it, mobile and sports are a perfect marriage. Fans can get sports scores, stats and replays on demand. Most teams have an app out, are working on one, or are upgrading their current app. Some of the sports apps have features like schedules, in-game chat, blogs, standings, scores, video highlights, loyalty programs, seat upgrades and some strides are being made towards mobile ticketing.

The Coyle Media Sports Fan Poll finalized in Feb 2013 on the topic of “Mobile” was completed by 8,000 fans and here are some of the findings:
• 89% said yes to owning a smartphone
• Checking scores ranked as the number one activity
• Checking the schedule, stats and blogs were the next most popular activities
• 55% said they loaded the local team’s mobile app
• Fans used the phone most to follow the team when they could not see the game
• 57% said they had trouble using the phone at the venues and blame the carriers not the building owners
• Taking photos, texting, using social sites and communicating with friends ranked high

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Other polls have showed that most people would rather give up their TV than their cell phone and would rather leave the wallet at home vs. the cell phone. A recent survey showed that over 60% of US adult smartphone owners don’t go an hour without checking their phone.

The cell phone has clearly transformed many parts of our lives. It has particularly transformed the way we experience sporting events. The future of mobile will be driven by the fan demands which will create new opportunities for fan engagement for sports teams. The tablet is just starting to make an impact with 70% growth over the past year and this certainly becomes another mobile screen that can be used while viewing sports events.

Phones will continue to get faster processors, higher resolution screens, someday exponentially better batteries and new features that are being dreamed up in all the labs that are working to invent the future of mobile computing. Hang on to your phone and enjoy the ride. Sports or no sports we need our phones wherever we go. If we are lucky Google glasses will someday incorporate viewing our cell phone content and we can look back up at the world.

This article was written by Christine Stoffel and Chris Dill, co-founders of S.E.A.T.

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