Apple has signed a multi-year deal with Major League Baseball that will give an iPad Pro to coaching staff — so that they can easily access performance data, weigh up possible pitcher-hitter matchups, analyze where a player is likely to hit the ball, and even look up videos from previous games.
“We’re not just replacing binders with tablets; we’re actually helping them do things that weren’t possible before,” said Apple SVP of marketing, Phil Schiller.
The Apple deal coincides with the lifting of a ban on teams using laptops and mobile devices in dugouts.
Teams will be equipped with the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, as opposed to the smaller 9.7-inch models unveiled at Apple’s keynote event last week. Each iPad Pro will be fitted with a rugged case sporting the league’s logo, and a custom app called MLB Dugout, built with assistance from Apple.
The data available on the iPads will be proprietary to each team, as opposed to part of a league-wide database accessible by all. At first, app data will be pre-loaded before each game, although this will hopefully change to real-time data streams in the future.
Apple and MLB haven’t disclosed the details of the deal, but it comes off the back of a $400-million, four-year agreement between the National Football League and Microsoft for the NFL to use the Microsoft Surface. However, unlike that deal — which stipulates that the Surface must be visible on the sideline during every game — MLB is making use of the iPad Pro optional.
This isn’t the first time MLB has embraced Apple innovations. In 2013, MLB installed iBeacons at 20 U.S. ballparks last year to offer iOS-using spectators point-of-interest mapping and other relevant contextual information. The following year, a deal was struck which added Apple Pay to several MLB stadiums in time for the 2014 World Series.
Let’s hope that, unlike the NFL’s sometimes disastrous deal with Microsoft, Apple’s MLB agreement doesn’t strike out on a sour note!