Past, present and future of athlete iPhone apps

Oct 29, 2009
Misc

There was a time in the digital age when an athlete’s interaction with their fans was limited to a single impersonal Web site. The best you could hope for was a few press clippings, some photos, maybe a few “candid” shots of the athlete with his family, all summed up by a neat paragraph or […]

There was a time in the digital age when an athlete’s interaction with their fans was limited to a single impersonal Web site. The best you could hope for was a few press clippings, some photos, maybe a few “candid” shots of the athlete with his family, all summed up by a neat paragraph or two thanking the fans for taking time to support his team.

For whatever reason, whether it was a healthy distrust from the athletes themselves or careful marketing by their agents, the Internet was not a great place to connect with your favorite sports heroes.

Time and advancing technology have changed all that. Twitter has led to people being able to read a star athlete’s thoughts instantaneously, while blogs have granted greater access to the personalities lurking behind the multi-million dollar contracts. Stars, they’re just like us? Maybe!

The iPhone actually shows off the evolution of this trend from past to future quite well.

Past

Like the PR-first, fan-second Web sites mentioned above, some athlete-specific apps don’t really have anything useful to say. Some, in the case of the NBA’s own Mini-Bobbles, are actually nothing more than digital versions of a bobblehead.

You can make figurine versions of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and a host of others bobble their oversized heads back and forth and side-to-side all for the low price of 99 cents. It is the iPhone version of a harmless, brainless, “personal” athlete Web site.

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Present

Luckily, the present state of athlete apps is quickly improving. The all-second team of athlete apps features a starting line-up of the bearded wonder, Los Angeles Clippers guard Baron Davis, and Toronto Raptors big man Chris Bosh.

Both Bosh and Davis have free apps designed by BeakerBreakers, Inc. and they share a common layout; four sliding pages, the first with their stats, the second with their Twitter feeds, the third with their Flickr pics, and the fourth with their YouTube collection.

Bosh even goes a few steps further and personalizes his app with a Top 5 restaurants list and a user poll you can vote on.

Both apps have stylish, user-friendly layouts, but what separates them from their predecessors’ Web pages is the interactivity and user-connectivity. Where a pre-game interview with an athlete would only give you the standard list of famous sports clichés (unless you’re talking to Shaq), a quick look at Davis’ Twitter reveals his thoughts on older folks at the club: “If u 40 & n the club. Go home now”

But as much as these apps represent serious steps forward for interactivity between fans and athletes, it’s the 2.99 Chad Ochocino Experience that truly lets you get in the head of an athlete.

It probably helps that even before he had an app, Chad Ochocino was one of the more personable NFL stars around. His endless tweeting borders on insane, and his app captures this free spirit to really let you into his life.

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His “experience,” created by Rock Software, has a bio, a news feed of stories about himself and an embedded Twitter feed for starters. But that only covers one of the app’s four tabs. You can also purchase songs from iTunes that Ocho recommends, see a map with a landmark showing which city he’s in, and best of all, receive tips from Ocho like “There is a problem if she works OT but the check is coming up short!!!!”

Ocho’s app closes out its amazing feature set with the standard photos, videos and a bonus soundboard of Ochocino’s favorite phrases like “Kiss da baby!” in English and Spanish.

It’s hard to imagine what else Ochocino could even include in this app. This might be the ultimate fan experience if you had any interest at all in one of pro football’s most interesting players.

Future

That leaves the future. If more people take the Bengals’ wide receiver’s lead and create all-encompassing experiences, the athlete app experience is going to get very interesting, very fast.

For now, all we have is to hope that more apps are forthcoming. Next up on Rock Software’s list: Mark Cuban’s Puzzle Palace. Yes, take one of Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban’s personal photos (or one of your own) and try to put the picture back together.

Not even Ochocino could’ve seen that coming a few years ago.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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