Hoping to be perceived as the genius who sits in the background and waits for the perfect moment to say something profound, IBM wants people to know it touches more than 1 billion mobile phone subscribers daily and continues to develop about 80% of the world's smartphone software made possible through a $100 million investment supporting mobile communications in semiconductors, cellular towers, mobile apps, networks and more.
Millions of mobile phones shipped this year will include IBM technology. "IBM has joined the party; in fact, we've been powering the party for quite some time," says an IBM company spokesperson. "We're the plumbing in the background in transportation systems, smart grids and energy efficiencies. Now we're ready to say, 'Oh, by the way, we're also powering your mobile phone calls.'"
Big Blue turned its largest software laboratory in Littleton, Mass., last June into a research and development lab, where the company will dedicate all projects to mobile software development.
Nielsen estimates by the end of Q2 2010, 25% of the U.S. mobile subscribers owned a smartphone. That number should approach half by Q3 2011, as device manufacturers and wireless carriers increase their marketing push to graduate users to higher-value devices and data plans, according to eMarketer Senior Analyst Noah Elkin.
In fact, increased ownership of smart devices, in part, led eMarketer to raise its estimate of the number of mobile users who will access the Web from their devices in 2010 to 85.5 million, up from 83.5 million in the November 2009 forecast. By 2014, the research firm estimates 142.1 million users, representing 53.9% of the U.S. mobile user population, will access the Internet using mobile browsers or applications.
"Devices and networks will continue to become a key factor in the consumption of content on mobile," Elkin tells MediaPost, emphasizing the integration across multiple devices-television, mobile devices and personal computers-will become the next phase to support content and advertising. A move IBM will likely make.
IBM also is working with the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament to connect sports fan to its Web site, USOpen.org, and mobile devices. The company has built an iPhone application, Around Me, it will introduce for free through the iTunes App Store on the first day of the event. The mobile application combines augmented reality with live location-based data streams of tennis matches. So, it allows sports fans to point their iPhone in any direction on the campus in New York during the U.S. Open to find the closest food station, restroom or public transportation. It works by streaming live data from on and off the court based on someone's exact location and connects with the global positioning system (GPS) embedded in the tennis fan's iPhone.
The strategy aims to capitalize on the move by sports fans to view content on mobile devices, as sports properties adjust to active lifestyles by dedicated fans that want access to video highlights and scores on smartphones while on the go.
Aside from the iPhone application, U.S. Open mobile content will become available through a dedicated mobile site, m.usopen.org, with USOpen.org radio, live scoring updates, video highlights and more. Fans can sign-up for more than 250 different types of free SMS alerts, including individual player updates for any player in the main draw, breaking news, weather information, TV schedules, ticket availability, and updates as to the latest events at SmashZone and around the grounds.
IBM will build in two other applications on USOpen.org. This year, IBM will provide the U.S. Open with new data analytics capabilities and mobile applications. US Open PointStream will pull huge amounts of data around scores and statistics of matches. It will show aces, serve speed, winners and all other key data of a match visualized in real time, allowing the online fans to get an immediate and accurate visual sense of a match in progress.
A Momentum Meter, also developed by IBM, will show the player with current statistical edge. So, a tennis fan can watch the match on TV while simultaneously using their iPad, laptop or netbook to view the scoring and match statistics, represented by visual images rather than difficult-to-navigate charts and graphs of numbers.
Fans looking for stats can dig deeper. Single Stat View lets fans click on one stat, similar stats will become highlighted allowing the person to compare players. An analysis feature lets fans select analysis points to gain insights into the stats they view. The Point Rollover feature lets fans rollover data points to get a detailed view of the match they're watching