By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
AT&T Wireless and Sprint PCS have begun offering a downloadable NASCAR.com TO GO application that enables racing enthusiasts to access real-time updates of NASCAR racing news, driver data and event photos.
Subscribers can also listen into a NASCAR driver's in-car audio during a live race, and they can receive event schedules, news updates and driver biographies.
The application is the first developed by startup Digital Orchid, based here. The company develops real-time applications for brands with at least 5 million enthusiasts, delivers the content to the subscriber, and negotiates agreements with wireless carriers to offer the application as a download, said Digital Orchid president Randy Granovetter. The company also selects distribution partners to complement the customer's own distribution channels. In return, Digital Orchid takes a share of the services' revenues.
The carriers' launch of the service coincides with the Daytona 500 NASCAR race and with direct sales of phones preloaded with the application via Digital Orchid's toll-free number and via the NASCAR.com TO GO site, which is jointly operated by Digital Orchid and Turner Sports Interactive.
Digital Orchid's venture with NASCAR taps into a fan base of 75 million people, or more than 37 percent of the adult population, Granovetter said.
The NASCAR application is designed for wireless phones equipped with Java-based J2ME client-server technology and for PDA-phones incorporating the PocketPC OS and Microsoft's .Net client-server technology. Digital Orchid is also developing the NASCAR application for wireless phones equipped with BREW. Alltel will offer the service over BREW phones in June, she said.
The application appears on the download menus of J2ME-equipped phones available through Sprint and AT&T. The application can be downloaded over-the-air for $9.99 by the following J2ME phones: the Sanyo SCP-5300 and SCP-4590 phones on the Sprint network, the Samsung a500 and n400 on Sprint, and Motorola's T720 on the AT&T network.
Phones available direct from Digital Orchid include PocketPC phones, which currently can't download the app over the air. The company said the next version of the app will support over-the-air downloads. The PocketPC-phones are the HTC 9500, which operates on the T-Mobile network; the Siemens SX56 PocketPC phone for the AT&T network, and Toshiba's 2032 for the Sprint network. Existing PocketPC-phone users can send their Pocket PC to Digital Orchid for an install.
A subscription costs $19.95/month if consumers buy the app after the Daytona 500. Promotional pricing is in effect before the race.
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