The ESPN phone — at a reported $150 million — was enough of a disaster for no less an authority as Steve Jobs to reportedly call it “the dumbest fucking idea I have ever heard.”

But ESPN executives think Jobs has it wrong. Sure, the phone was a commercial bomb — ESPN scrapped it within a year — but the ill-fated project got the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader willing to make bold digital bets and also provided it with the plumbing to deliver content quickly in mobile. (Google recently ranked ESPN first among media and technology companies with fastest mobile websites.)

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