Why Bluetooth A Football Stadium?

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Today in the UK sees the start of the Premiership football season and those folks at Matchday Media will have been beavering away all summer to get their stadium screen networks in tip-top shape as they are every year – we love what MDM.tv have done with digital screens in stadiums.

We are not sure though about this recent More Mobile Relations launch of EvertonBluetooth(R) at Goodison Park, the home of Everton Football Club.

First we are told that this is a bit different from the usual single access point bluecasting / bluejacking approach and though we haven’t experienced it for ourselves, from what we read it doesn’t sound too dissimilar from what we have seen (and experienced) elsewhere (more of that a bit later).

The claim by the way is that this particular installation at Goodison Park is the biggest concentration of Bluetooth nodes in one location in the world (and we just know that some of our US colleagues are going to dispute that!!).

The Bluetooth network seems to act like a ‘walled-garden’ allowing fans to access the official Everton Java Application and the EvertonMobile channel. Fans can access the usual ‘unique content’ such as player interviews and other unspecified ‘specific’ mobile content and we are also told, but it’s not that exciting, that the Bluetooth application will transmit the latest Everton news from ticket information to matchday offers direct to mobile phones for free.

Of course this system has the potential to reach in excess of 40,000 people at every home game during the 2008/09 Barclays Premier League season AS LONG AS supporters turn on the Bluetooth functionality on their mobile phones – we ASSUME that is where Match Day Media comes in by advertising this service on ther stadium screens.

None of this is particularly new, even though Mark Rowan, Everton’s Head of Media and Communications said in the press release “We at Everton like to be at the cutting edge of mobile phone technology and the launch of EvertonBluetooth(R) is proof of such”

Back in January 2008 we wrote in an article entitled “Bluetooth’s Coming Home” about the work that Bluepod were doing in the stadiums of Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, West Ham, Portsmouth, Wigan Athletic, Wolves, and Celtic.

The press release claim is that “Bluetooth technology is becoming a viable marketing channel for Everton and our partners to utilise. We are excited to bring fans a better experience on match day by keeping them up to date with the latest offers and news.”

We would argue that there have been very few successful Bluetooth marketing campaigns (there have been some before everyone writes in but they are few and far between) AND if Everton really was interested “in keeping (its spectators) up to date with the latest offers and news” there are better ways of doing so.

The fact that more and more phones are wi-fi enabled these days we feel that they would be better off just giving free wi-fi to spectators rather than mess around with a closed Bluetooth offering.

Seriously we don’t want to keep harping on about free wi-fi BUT what better (delete as appropriate) social networking experiment / demonstration of Corporate Social Responsibility / good for the community / PR coup to have the world’s first free Wi-Fi football stadium rather than yet another closed Bluetooth me-too network.

Claus Holmen, Managing Director of More Mobile Relations is we think a bit out of touch with current trends when he says, again in the press release “Location based mobile marketing via Bluetooth(R) is becoming increasingly relevant for clubs, sponsors and advertisers”

Has he not heard of that little thing called the iPhone which is changing the way people perceive the mobile and the mobile internet – does he seriously expect iPhone users to ditch their glorious Safari browser running over Edge / 3G or a wi-fi network (or indeed Samsung or Nokia’s latest bunch of smart phones) to use a Bluetooth connection?

Admittedly, research may well show that in general your average football fan is possibly not your average iPhone user YET (they will be big Samsung, Sony and Nokia users and their user / browser experience is still quite good) however the point is that the way the iPhone manages and distributes content is a powerful consumer dedicated proposition.

The crowd in a football stadium is not isolated from the rest of the world, it’s not disconnected, it doesn’t NEED a closed, captive Bluetooth network to talk to / get communication from inside or outside of the stadium – in our opinion putting Bluetooth networks into stadiums is out-dated and simply not necessary.

Give the spectators what they want and not what you think they want. Work with the devices they have in their pockets (and increasingly will have in their pockets) AND let them communicate how they want to and NOT how you want them to.

Wi-Fi and 3G will win hands down every single time against Bluetooth for communication – remember that Bluetooth is simply a connection and delivery mechanism, it’s not in our humble opinion any good as a communications mechanism.

One Response to “Why Bluetooth A Football Stadium?”

  1. Tom Shrager Says:

    What a rant!

    – I think it would be best to pass a view if you actually understand the benefits of Bluetooth and equally how wifi can work in conjunction with bluetooth.

    – Bluepod media is developing a national network of bluetooth zones which is working fantastically for clients and agencies alike.

    Get a better understanding before you rant might be best!

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