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No medals for 2010 Olympics applications

By Al Kalman

In the world of mobile applications, especially iPhone applications, there are many choices presented around any single category. The 2010 Winter Olympics is no exception, but unfortunately the Olympics applications are far from world-class.

NBC Olympics on AT&T (free)
Funny how the iPhone application produced by AT&T crashed twice during testing and both the navigation and design could have used more work.

There is a Search feature at the top of pages, which is good, and the overall content is comprehensive with plenty of news, human interest pieces and schedules.

But by no means does this application over-deliver. Finding information can be confusing and often tapping the Back button does not return to the previous screen.

For example, tap on a featured item on the Home/Now page, then tap Back and there is a good chance you will be sent to the ?Favorites? page. Or tap on one of the events under the ?Sports? icon and the Back button goes to the ?Schedules? page.

Getting results is cumbersome, videos could have been better integrated, and just finding the list of athletes takes three clicks from the Home page: Favorites ? Category ? Athletes.

Additionally, the application seems to be trying too hard to include and integrate social media.

Posts directly from the athletes are fun, but visit Lindsey Vonn?s page in the ?Social? section and there are messages from users like, ?U looked smoking hot in the SI swimsuit issue? and ?Lindsey u r so fing hot and I want u to win gold.?

The application can also be slow, even via WiFi, and sometimes pages do not fully load. Not exactly AT&T ? or Apple for that matter ? at their best.

GRADE: C+

2010 Guide ? Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games: The Official Mobile Spector Guide (free)
The title of this application, presented by Bell Canada, is so long it does not fit on the screen.

Nevertheless, this is a good little tool for keeping track of the games, even if some sections look like they were cloned from AT&T?s application reviewed above.

If you happen to be in Vancouver, the application also includes local cultural events, venues and maps, so you never need to be bored, or get lost.

The schedules are easy to find, but there are no videos or photo galleries and anything about the athletes is deeply hidden.

The application includes current news and relatively painless links to the results, which open up a browser window within the application. While much of the application feels like pages repurposed from an Internet site, it is handy for a quick Olympic fix.

GRADE: B

CTV: VANCOUVER 2010 (free)
NBC Universal has broadcast rights in the United States, but in Canada, host of this years? games, CTV network is the broadcaster and this is its official application. It is free, but aside from a news feed and some photos and bios, unfortunately very little content is offered and there are constant upsells to the $1.99 version.

Looking for results? It will cost you. Want to know anything about the medals? Pay up.

What are the other benefits of upgrading to premium? Live blogs and push notifications ? items that are free from so many other sources. And nowhere are videos offered, a strange decision for a television network airing the biggest spectacle in the country.

GRADE: C

Vancouver Olympic Games Feed (free)
There will undoubtedly be more Android applications for the 2012 Olympics, but for now there is little to find outside this news aggregator.

The application has no special sections for results, schedules, photos, videos or even a true directory of athletes or events.

Instead, there are lists of news feeds with each headline linking to a corresponding Web page on NBC or Vancouver2010.com. At least pressing the Back button from a story goes straight back to the feed, without having to re-open the application.

GRADE: C?

For BlackBerry users, NBC has a product in the BlackBerry App World. Unfortunately, it is not an application, but a bookmark, taking users to the NBC mobile Internet site.

Judging from the uniformly negative reviews BlackBerry users are giving this ?application,? NBC, or any other company thinking to brand themselves across platforms, should carefully consider what message they want to send to their audience before making any final calls on how to expend their resources and budget. 

As for the rest of the Olympics qualifiers, there?s a premium news application, titled 2010 Games ($1.99) and a free application called Winter 2010 that has a nice listing of medals by country.

Finally, searching for ?Olympics? in the App Store also brings up the general CBS Sports Mobile application, which begs the question, why does not the regular NBC Sports Mobile application also appear? Maybe it is because there is no dedicated section on NBC Sports for the Olympics. But CBS Sports does not have one either.

Looks like CBS is the winner of the ?keyword? event.

Al Kalman is president of AlKal Media Group, New York. Reach him at .