Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MLB launches its new iOS and Android apps: new pricing and app strategy instituted for the 2012 season

As promised, Major League Baseball (MLB) has launched a universal app for the 2012 season. The app is now free to download and does offer some functionality in "lite" mode. It also offers other levels of service for the baseball diehard.

The Philadelphia Phillies are playing the first spring training game today against team from Florida State.

iOS device owners last year complained about having to choose between downloading the iPhone or iPad apps, since each came with a price tag. This year a new app, MLB At Bat, will work on both devices and is free to download.

Here is how the two apps will work for you: if you download the app you can opt to not pay anything. You'll then just have an app that will give you a scoreboard – not very valuable, and there are better options elsewhere; you can then choose AtBat12 which includes a $14.99 one-time fee and a subscription price of $2.99 a month, this is basically the replacement for last year's radio option.

True baseball fans will want to subscribe to MLB.TV. That costs $24.99 per month, but now you can watch games on both your iPhone and iPad, not to mention an AppleTV, if you own one of those devices.

The true test for the new apps won't really come until MLB starts streaming games live. That has always been where the problems with these apps have been. Hopefully MLB has beefed up their servers and can deliver the goods this year. After all, someone has to have a good season, I doubt seriously it will be any of my teams. (Oops, aren't you supposed to be an optimist in the spring?)

Android: MLB has a slightly different way of handling Android. There are two new apps in the Android Market. At Bat Lite is a free app – if you are an MLB.TV subscriber this is the app you need to download, then sign into your account to access the video streams. At Bat, though, will cost you $14.99 – this is the radio app.

You can see why iOS users will be happy with the new apps, while Android users will have to navigate their way around a little.

Based on the reviews inside both the App Store and the Android Market, users are OK with the new apps. But, again, streaming of games has not started yet.

I've checked out Amazon, and as of today, there does not appear to be any MLB At Bat app online at this point.