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Volume 24 No. 237
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Microsoft Working With NFL TV Announcers To Correctly Identify Sideline Tablets As Surface

Microsoft "thought it had scored a touchdown when it struck a multiyear deal with the NFL that would allow teams to use the company's Surface tablets during games," but TV announcers "keep referring to the devices as iPads," according to a front-page piece by Chang & Perry of the L.A. TIMES. The Surface tablets are "replacing the pages of black-and-white photographs that had long been printed out using fax machines and printers and delivered in binders to teams dozens of times during a game." The confusion "began during Week One of the season." Fox' John Lynch told viewers Saints QB Drew Brees was "not watching movies on his iPad" during a game. Lynch "made things more awkward when he then said players had 'iPad-like tools.'" A "similar slip-up" occurred on "MNF" last week when ESPN's Trent Dilfer "wondered how long it took Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore 'to learn how to use the iPad.'" A Microsoft spokesperson said, "Despite the majority of our friends in the booth correctly identifying the Surface on NFL sidelines, we're working with the league to coach up a select few." The blunders "highlight the difficulty that many tech companies -- even enormous ones such as Microsoft -- face in a country dominated" by Apple products. Microsoft "expected prominent brand exposure" with its deal, as the thinking was, if Microsoft "is good enough for the NFL, it must be good enough for viewers." The partnership "is rolling out in stages." Teams last year "began by hanging Microsoft ads around their stadiums as well as on the hoods of instant replay booths and communication carts near the field." Things "ramped up this season with in-game team usage of Surface tablets on the sidelines, the first time that tablets have been allowed by the league during games" (L.A. TIMES, 9/18).