Wimbledon serves up mobile ace

For all its sense of tradition Wimbledon has often been at the forefront of harnessing new technology, and with its iPhone app hitting its fourth birthday this year and 2013 seeing the debut of a tailored iPad flavour, it now has one of the oldest and most fully featured mobile presences tied to a major event in any sport.

The apps’ list of features is an impressive one, presenting live scoring, statistics, schedule information, player information, live video and live radio, and video highlights of the two week tournament (though the mix varies slightly from platform to platform – Android support was added last year).

It has been developed and evolved over the years by IBM, the Championships’ official IT supplier and technology partner, and this year adds the ability to ‘favourite’ players and receive alerts about those players as they progress – or don’t – through the Tournament.

In addition, the iPad app will feature some exclusive content, including 360 degree video and photography, flyover footage of the grounds, and live time lapse photography.

“The apps use IBM’s scoring and statistical data,” explains Alexandra Willis, editorial content manager, AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club). “The scoring feeds are similar to what appears on Wimbledon.com, but are repurposed specific to each app. The iPad app also features Slamtracker, IBM’s bespoke scoreboard and match analysis tool.”

Slamtracker is an interesting app in itself. It uses IBM predictive analytics technology, to analyse over eight years worth of Grand Slam Tennis data (which works out at something along the lines of 41 million data points) to find patterns and styles for players when they win. Prior to each match at the Championships, the IBM system then runs an analysis of both competitors’ historic head-to-head stats, as well as stats against comparable play styles, to determine the keys to winning the match. The system ranks and filters the results into the top three keys, while the main Dashboard is updated in real-time with current game statistics as the match unfolds.

Also channelled via the app is the AELTC’s impressive own Live @ Wimbledon video and radio IP production which aims to replicate for fans the experience they would have if they were at the All England Club themselves.

“Live @ Wimbledon is a complimentary presentation to our broadcast partners,” says Willis. “It provides a helicopter, feature-led insight into The Championships, moving around courts at key moments, and bringing to life other parts of Wimbledon.”

Rights issues prevent it being available in all territories, but the list is expanding and for this year will be available in the Americas (North and South, excluding Brazil), the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Belgium.

Of course, the app is largely a reflection of the excellent work the AELTC has put in to its .com efforts over the years, but with the impressive growth in mobile data consumption worldwide, particularly in the sports arena, 2013 could provide the organisation with some interesting figures by the end of the Championships.

“The swing from desktop to mobile means that yes, we are seeing increasing consumption of content on mobile platforms, but desktop and .com continue to provide the bulk of our traffic,” she states. “It will be interesting to see if that swings further this year.”

And one of the things that could help emphasise that swing is a neat new feature added to Slamtracker that plays very much to mobile’s strengths, IBM adding a tool that tracks the percentage of positive tweets for players as the match progresses. It effectively allows fans to see how a player’s performance on the court is matched by their Twittersphere performance off it.

And if you’re thinking that would have been an interesting tool to have had around during the McEnroe era, you’re not the only one.

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