Lining up against each other today in the arena of augmented reality football apps are two teams: one from Germany, the other from the U.S. Both sides play mightily different football—while Germany's is a model of teutonic efficiency, a collaboration of three major players: Junaio, Impire, and Vodafone Deutschland, the U.S. model is a cute little banner ad that puts the spectator at the center of the action.
The smartphone app—for iPhone and Android models only—allows users to find the closest public viewing area to them, and leave comments for their mates via either Facebook or a Vodafone-supported Web site. You get the stats, and if you're lucky enough to be watching the divots flying in a South African stadium, you get a spanky little virtual scoreboard suspended above the turf.
The second one is a scruffier prospect—think Dempsey sans razor—that is part of an online AT&T campaign. It's been developed by Zugara, BBDO, and Zoic studios, and gives you five chances to beat the keeper with a headed goal. Click on a banner ad—seen here on ESPN.com—and, with a little help from your Webcam, head the ball into the net. That is, if you're good enough.
Actually, as Alan Hansen, hatchet-faced hatchet man footballer-turned-BBC pundit, would say the scoreline—read headline—flatters to deceive. While the app is as professional and informative as you can get, the banner ad just shades it—because it's fun. And because my bosses are American.