Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

June 2010

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World Cup: Picking a Device Easier than Picking a Winner

June 11, 2010

With the 2010 World Cup set to kick off momentarily in South Africa, two questions come to mind: how are you going to follow your favorite teams, and who will win?   The first, despite today's busy lifestyles and work schedules, is the easier of the two. Between streaming feeds, ESPN's coverage, and availability of various mobile World Cup apps, keeping tabs on your team is simple.   In fact, ESPN Mobile TV, available with most major U.S. carriers (sorry T-Mobile customers), as well as to FloTV subscribers, will ensure you don't miss a minute, regardless of where you are.    Certainly, the experience isn't the same as watching on a big screen TV or, even better, your new 3D TV, but your Sprint Evo will give you a pretty good picture of what's going on (pun intended) - either through carriers' mobile TV capabilities (in conjunction with ESPN Mobile TV), or your Slingbox app (now available for Android phones as well).   In any case, the power of the World Cup is evident in the host of applications developed to allow fans to track the month-long tournament wherever they are.   The second question is the hard part and, to keep up with something of a tradition he had started, I asked our friend, former colleague, and current TMCnet Robotics blogger Greg Galitzine for his predictions (may he fare better than in 2006):   Round Robin Round Group A: France, Mexico
Group B: Nigeria, Argentina
Group C: England, USA
Group D: Germany, Ghana
Group E: Netherlands, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Ivory Coast
Group H: Spain, Chile

Quarterfinals Argentina, England, Netherlands, Brazil Nigeria, Germany, Italy, and Spain

Semifinals England v Brazil and Nigeria v Spain

Consolation Nigeria over England

  Championship Brazil over Spain
A few comments from a casual glance at the pairings:   Can the U.S. pull off another upset like it did against Spain in the Confederations Cup? If so, it could end up on the left side of the bracket - the easier side - likely against Serbia in the quarters (instead of Germany). Not a great bracket there, which could benefit the American squad and send them to the quarters against France, which is not as strong as in the past.   The other side likely brings us Spain v.

Will 3D Score with the World Cup on its Side?

June 11, 2010

Despite having thoroughly enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon in 3D, despite the heavy focus on 3D at last month's The Cable Show, and despite the emergence of 3D televisions in retail stores nationwide, I've always felt the 3D movement might not make it past the big screen.   It's not a question of cost - 3D televisions will come down from their current prices, which range from about $2k to more than $6k. It's not even a question of having to wear the goofy glasses, because they are already available in a variety of styles that mimic traditional eyewear in design and comfort.   More so, I've wondered how much content consumers would be willing to endure in 3D. While I have enjoyed it in the theaters, I also have found it to be more strenuous to watch.   Back in March at CTIA, Avatar director James Cameron noted, however, that you can't fight technology. And in this case, he might be right, especially when you consider the global impact of the sports world, which is the early target for 3D programming.   It's certainly no surprise that ESPN has chosen the World Cup to launch its 3D channel - this is the biggest event for the world's most popular sport. The network will show 25 World Cup matches, including the championship match, as well as the MLB Home Run Derby, the BCS National Championship game, and Big East men's basketball tournament, among other events. In total, it says its current plans are to air more than 80 3D events in its inaugural year.   As for the World Cup and how big of an impact it might have on the 3D industry in the U.S., currently, DirecTV, Comcast, and AT&T U-verse have signed on. U-verse perhaps in an attempt to combat perceptions that its service was launched prematurely and without enough capacity for many residences, though it is the only one of the three charging an additional fee for the service.  Cogeco Cable in Canada is also showing the consolation and championship matches in 3D top its subscribers at no cost.   I'm still not convinced the market is ready, and ESPN's timing, while spot on with the World Cup, will suffer from a lack of uptake of 3D televisions due to cost and limited time on the market to date.   Ultimately, Cameron is likely right, "the stuff is coming, start thinking about 3D apps," but I also think his initial assessment of real market impact in three to five years is likely closer to the truth.   Still, ESPN doesn't follow other networks, and if there is a network and an industry that can drive 3D, it's these, and I'm hoping to find somewhere to watch at least one match in 3D sometime between today and July 11.