Jul 2, 2015 — by: Mark Reschke
Categories: iPad, iPhone, MacBook, Tim Cook

Panasonic_tennis_tabletIBM is chief sponsor of the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, the grass championships at Wimbledon, England. For two weeks even novice onlookers tune into Wimbledon, as it scrapes into the consciousness of mainstream sports reporting. IBM is center stage, breaking into every commercial break. Even if a casual TV viewer, one cannot help but notice IBM. But Big Blue does more than just sponsor the tournament, they provide real-time statistics and graphics revealing where players are hitting each and every ball, their service success, and ball angles and heights. With Apple and IBM well into their $100 million partnership, it would be more than obvious the chair umpires would be officiating each match using iPads. That assumption would be wrong.

Chair umpires are using a Panasonic tablet. Specifically, Panasonic's Toughpad, deploying Intel Core i-series processing and Windows 7 or 8. Hawkeye, the system used to track the ball and validates whether the ball is in or out, is not infallible. In fact, it deploys non-high-speed 2D cameras, which must then estimate that track of the ball. Not exactly infallible. Why aren’t Apple iPads in the umpire’s chair, seamlessly working with IBM’s cloud technologies? Why use legacy 2D cameras, that cannot handle an ounce of low-light conditions, instead of showcasing iPhone 6+ and 240fps recording for Hawkeye?

IBM’s commercials have not a single Apple product in them, or mention. A college student dropout rate advertisement displays a lecture hall of students, all using paper or Windows laptops, and not a single MacBook to be seen (so we know this is a commercial, having no semblance of reality). The professor tallies information of students attendance with a pencil and paper (okay, that’s about right). IBM’s medical advertising? Surely an iPad would be showcased? Nothing. Just MRI images and doctors looking very Doctor-ish. In fact, not a single IBM advertisement from IBM promoting their data, analytics, or access of it, contains a single Apple product being showcased. Windows solutions? Yes. Dominating Apple products with whom IBM is making a massive push with? No. 

IBM picks which sporting events they will sponsor very carefully, and the Apple partnership decision was not made on a whim, but is a decade long commitment. Perhaps someone in IBM corporate will inform their sports analytics team, marketing department and advertising agency, that they have fallen a decade behind what IBM is actually doing today.

It is really getting quite embarrassing to see dated IBM solutions deployed at sporting events, with Apple nowhere to be seen. Well, save for four out of every five spectators with their iPhones, shooting their own 240fps video, showing Hawkeyes guesswork to be inaccurate... Perhaps it is time Apple CEO, Tim Cook, make a simple call to IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty, and get that mammoth data company to get with the times.

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