Apple Watch & Sports

More than $1 Billion dollars have been invested into sports technology startups over the past year. It’s a staggering number that begs the question… Why? Is it because the landscape is sexier and might appeal to angels or VC’s more than biology or agriculture or is there real opportunity for disruption in sports business?

With the launch of the Apple Watch last week, I thought I’d give some quick insight into how the smart watch and its newest apps are penetrating the world of sports. With a background in event ticket sales, my first thoughts go there. StubHub’s Apple Watch app allows you to discover events and even carry tickets right on your wrist.

Fetch is an app that is focussing on allowing people to book anything from their Apple Watch. After installing it, you just tap the microphone icon to speak your request. This request is then picked up by one of Fetch’s trained 58 concierges. What if each venue or team had their own trained concierges where people could order food or inquire about seat upgrades with just the tap of their watch? Just don’t try it right before Steph Curry knocks down back to back 3 pointers because if opposing coaches can’t even relay instructions to their players when Oracle Arena is about to burst, I’m not sure how effective a concierge will be in a moment like that. Might want to at least wait for a twenty second time-out.

Other league Apple Watch apps include NBA Game Time and MLB at Bat. As of now, the teams with their own apps include the Hawks, Nets, Hornets, Cavaliers, Warriors, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Timberwolves, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, 76ers, Suns, Trailblazers, Spurs, Raptors, and Wizards. Version one of these apps don’t seem to offer anything that pulling out your phone and resting it on your lap couldn’t other than a smaller screen and being wearable. MLB allows you to follow pitch counts and follow live scores and schedules but it will be interesting to see what comes next. Similar to the first generation iPad, the Apple Watch does not yet support streaming video, but when it does, it should be interesting to see how sports bsuiness will incorporate such functionality into smart watches. Perhaps we’ll see Tiger Woods wearing the watch and using its features as he lines up a putt or Kevin Durant might elect to look down on his wrist to see if he committed the foul or not on replay. Why strain your neck looking all the way up to the Jumbotron?

Sports media will undoubtably become a player in this space. Simple Radio already allows you to tap and listen to live sporting events at home and abroad. The question I keep asking myself with all of this is… “Does it matter that I have this technology or capability on my wrist?” Sure a ticket, team schedule, radio broadcasts are all great things to access, but is there a need or advantage to having them on your wrist as opposed to having to simply pulling out your phone? If I can pay the cotton candy guy by just pressing my wrist up against his tray, is it that really any cooler than if I pull out my phone and do it? Where do you see Apple Watch and other wearable apps being adopted in the sports world moving forward?