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MLB takes notice of the Android just in time for 2011 season

by Kellie Bartoli

Opening Day has finally arrived, and for Android users it’s better than ever.

Major League Baseball has finally realized the rapid growth and reach of Android devices, and is beginning to cater to them instead of just the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch.

The official app, MLB at Bat, has been a fixture in the iTunes store season after season, but last year was the first full season it was available to Android customers. (A beta version was released in Oct. 2009 for the postseason, though went rather unnoticed). Even still, the app barely made the cut: While iPhone users could live stream games, the Android version only offered live audio.

But MLB has upped their game with the 2011 release of their app. The new update now offers complete video streaming, regardless of device (well, that is if you’re an MLB.tv subscriber, for $100-$120 a season). Everyone else who downloaded the $14.99 app is still treated to one select game each day to stream live. At Bat also features news, stats, scores, photos, a video archive, schedule, roster and the ability to track your favorite team from your phone’s home screen.

And it’s about time MLB called their Android app up from the minor leagues. According to a press release from the International Data Corporation, “Android is poised to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011 after racing into the number 2 position in 2010.”

And that market will continue to grow: “For the vendors who made Android the cornerstone of their smartphone strategies, 2010 was the coming-out party. This year will see a coronation party as these same vendors broaden and deepen their portfolios to reach more customers, particularly first-time smartphone users.”

Companies, especially ones as expansive as Major League Baseball, can no longer ignore the Android market. It won’t be surprising if these devices soon become their top priority.

Other groups aren’t waiting around for years to release their Android apps, though. MyBallGames.com, which offers information on every Major League game since 1950, just announced a Facebook app, and rumor has it that an Android app is on the way. And StubHub just launched their app in the Android market that lets fans buy and sell tickets directly from their phone.