March Madness drives app innovation

Most of us love tournament madness. I remember being in Las Vegas for the NCAA tournament, and I had Kentucky +8 against Duke, even though I was rooting for the Blue Devils. I was in the Caesars Palace sports book, which at the time was basically a mecca for sports and betting fans. I couldn’t lose my bet as the game was so close, and then I was able to witness Christian Leattner’s epic game-winning shot that will be remembered for as long as kids play basketball.

That’s why we love March Madness. Last night gave us another glimpse, particularly for us Ohio State fans, as LaQuinton Ross hit a three at the end of regulation to give the Buckeyes the win over Arizona. The Buckeyes have now done this two games in a row, so I suspect that more and more fans will be tuning in to their games.

Events like this can now be experienced in so many new ways with apps and devices. You can’t replicate what I experienced in Las Vegas, but you can create incredible experiences as these games play out. That’s why we have an explosion of apps built around the NCAA tournament which drives incredible innovation that can spill over to other areas. If you want to enter a pool, like to bet on March Madness, challenge your friends or just see the drama in real time, there are tons of apps out there that will let you do so.

The key is that in today’s world, content drives more content. Derivative activities like pools and betting can thrive around sporting events, but also television like contest shows. That’s why we’re also seeing an explosion of interactive TV around apps as well.

Get ready for more and more ways to enjoy this stuff, though the drama of seeing games unfold in real time still has to be the best way to enjoy these events.

Choosing the right tablet when doing your holiday shopping

Ever since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to much fanfare and the product took off and started a whole new product category, the market has been flooded with competing products as the country has basically gone tablet crazy. Even young kids basically expect some sort of tablet these days, making things very tough on parents trying to monitor what they do online. People of all ages enjoy these devices as they can be used for so many different purposes, and computer companies like HP that didn’t come up with a good competing product are getting crushed as PC and laptop sales have struggled.

With all of this in mind, here’s a great article from the NY Times that lays out many of the different options. For starters, you should simply avoid the ultra-cheap knockoff options. It’s tempting to go that way, but in many ways you’ll be wasting money.

After that you really need to consider who will be using the tablet. Kids are obsessed with games and texting. Many women and adults like to read books. Others like to surf the web for funny videos, interact with others in social media, play casino games at sites like partycasino.com, or just read the sports page. Some on your gift list may not use computers much, so you sometimes need to think about how they would love to use these devices once you point out uses for them.

E-readers have become more popular and frankly more articles, so the article linked about deals with those options as well. Consider traditional e-readers versus the new color options. Then you have the most basic choice between Apple and Android. Microsoft has also entered the debate though it remains to be seen if they can get beyond a sliver of the market.

There are tons of choices, so do your research online before you hit the stores.

iPhone mania leads to early gadget Christmas

Christmas shopping has certainly evolved over the years. With gadgets now dominating our lives, they also dominate our Christmas shopping, even for younger kids as the age minimum for smart phones in many families keeps getting lower. Sure, boys still love footballs and girls love their dolls, and parent will buy all sorts of things large and small. Clothes and stocking stuffers and trivial gifts like cards puzzle frames are still common, but gadgets have certainly become the most important item on many gift lists.

The gift guides will be coming out soon, and you can expect the iPhone 5 to dominate many of these lists, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. The only thing holding it back is that so many people have already purchased one, as the introduction of the iPhone in many ways was an early Christmas for those involved in the logistics of delivering the new phone. The iPhone hysteria is certainly good for companies like UPS and serves as a warmup for the crazy Christmas season.

Despite the maps fiasco, the new iPhone 5 is obviously a hit. But it’s certainly not for everyone with the high price tag. Parents in particular will be searching for less expensive alternatives, and many parents frankly don’t want to spoil 10-year old kids with a new iPhone. Yet the pressure remains. So scour the upcoming holiday gift guides for other ideas that will make the kids smile.

i’LL See You in Court

Assuming the Mayan calendar got it all wron, and we’ll all live to see 2013, then Apple’s got a day in court to look forward to.

As ruled by Manhattan judge Denise Cote, on June 3rd, 2013 the tech giant will be called forward to respond to the allegations that it helped to orchestrate a coalition of major book publishers (including MacMillan, Penguin Group, Hachette, HarperCollings and Simon & Schuster) in order to set a mandate that any publisher who sold their books via iTunes would not be able to sell them for a lower price anywhere else.

Where the monopoly accusation gets tricky is the idea that any possible coalition that may have been formed was potentially done with the intention of breaking up the stranglehold monopoly that Amazon held on the eBook industry at the time. Apple’s official statement on the subject treads incredibly close to supporting this theory when spokesperson Tom Neumary said at the time of the accusation:

“The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”

For an official statement, it’s pretty gutsy. In fact, it reads to me more like the title of OJ’s book (“If I Did It“) than it does an outright hands in the air denial.

Nevertheless, as HarperCollings, Simon & Schuster and Hachette have all settled out of court, its down now to MacMillan, Penguin and Apple themselves to face the Deparment of Justice accusation next year.

The ramifications of this future decision will obviously be far-reaching if Apple is found guilty, but even an innocent verdict raises the uncomfortable question of whether or not a tech giant just got away with a business crime under the basis that it was for “the greater good.”

Google Is Developing A High Resolution Chrome Browser…for Apple Users?

Today on the Google Chrome Blog, there was a bit of a surprise announcement.

It seems that Google is currently working on a new version of their Chrome browser that will be specially designed to make use of the new and improved Retina display on Apple’s recently announced new Macbook line. A vague comparison of the current browser and the soon to be new and improved model can be referenced in the above picture.

The beauty of the Retina display certainly can’t be overstated, though it apparently can be calculated based off of the $2,200 price tag it commands with the new Macbook, and it is exciting to see a tech giant like Google jumping on the bandwagon already to adapt to what may one day become a wave of the future in display. Lets not forget that Apple managed to change the smartphone market with the introduction of a revolutionary touch display system, and all of the resulting tech that has emerged since that and because of it has been fast, furious, and exciting.

If this browser adjustment from a major smartphone rival is indeed the very early volley of a display revolution similar to the one that television enjoyed with HDTV, the future could be looking very good for Apple and consumers.