Apple has signed a multi-year deal with Major League Baseball to equip every team with 12.9-inch iPad Pros fitted with rugged cases displaying the league’s logo, reports the Wall Street Journal. The iPads will run an app called MLB Dugout built by MLB’s Advanced Media division with help from Apple.
Using the iPads, teams will be able to access performance stats from current and past seasons, look at “spray charts”, and other things that weren’t possible before, says Apple senior vice president of marketing Phil Schiller.
Tim Teufel, the New York Mets’ third base coach, said that he looks forward to seeing what competitive advantage the MLB Dugout app and iPads can offer. “Managers have plans and positions laid out before the game even starts,” he said. “This won’t change that much. But when a relief pitcher comes in, when a pinch hitter comes up, when the game changes in unexpected ways, that’s when it’ll be really useful.”
While the Dugout data will be initially preloaded before each game, the MLB envisions a future when teams will be able to access data that is “closer to real time.” Steps have already been taken in this direction: testing began in games last year.
The deal follows an earlier agreement Microsoft inked with the National Football League, which cost the software maker $400 million. The terms of the MLB–Apple deal weren’t disclosed, so whether Apple paid for it or the MLB acquired the devices is under wraps.
Fact is, the multi-year agreement with MLB could help Apple’s iPad sales. As Matt Powell, an analyst with the NPD Group Inc. research firm points out, “One of the biggest reasons Beats headphones are so popular is that athletes wear them.”