Personal Technology at the Beijing Olympics

beijingolympicslogoReports are surfacing that Skype has been playing a significant role for many of the Olympic athletes.

Canadians have the option of watching Olympic activities during 18 hours of the day (from 6:00 p.m. to noon the following day – EDT or GMT-4) over two major networks: CBC and TSN. Canada had a dearth of medal action for the first week – causing a national angst in the mainstream Canadian media. Our two man rowing team came through with a first medal last Saturday morning and the medals have flowed to the point of winning 13 medals over the past four days.

Sunday was a big day for the Men’s Eight rowing team; having won gold at Sydney (2000), they had a major letdown by placing fifth at Athens (2004). Sunday that team, with five holdovers from 2004, won gold; it instantly became a very emotional experience for the members. During the subsequent CBC interview (unfortunately web streaming is limited to Canadians), one member mentioned how a pair of roommates had a reputation for spending a lot of time using Skype and email as their “common bond”.

Rohit Bhargava, a senior VP at Ogilvy 360, has been blogging at the games on his Influential Marketing Blog. He is in Beijing on behalf of Lenovo who is providing assistance to about 100 athlete bloggers at Voice of the Olympic Games. In the course of following the athletes’ blogging activity at the games, he interviewed three of them about their blogging experience. “Along the way in this event and through other conversations I’ve had with athletes, I picked up on several observations that only an athlete would know.” The main outcomes:

  • Technology is a big topic of discussion – If you are a tech geek like me, then you probably saw the Fast Company cover article on how technology is changing the Olympics. What you might not realize is just how big of a topic of conversation this is among most athletes.
  • Blogs get you interviews – Of the athletes that I spoke to with blogs, they raved about how much media the blog manages to get for them and their sport.
  • Skype is the killer app – Lenovo may be the ones providing the iLounge and access to the Internet, but it is Skype that is keeping athletes connected with their families back home.
  • Travelling is a pain in the *ss – For many athletes, the gear they need to carry makes life in airports and on the road really tough.

The entire post makes for interesting reading; Olympic athletes (with the exception of Canada’s 61-year-old, 9-time Olympian Ian Miller who finally won a silver medal in equestrian) are in the prime demographic of Internet savvy users. Being world travellers to participate in all their competitions has driven them to strongly adopt Internet technology, including Skype, as their primary communications tool.

And a final recommendation: read Rohit’s other posts on the Games; they make for an interesting background on how to survive in Beijing during the Games. And he has a most interesting post on how to make your “exclusive” Olympic sponsorship backfire. In the Canadian scene, Visa continues to run an ad about an athlete for whom there were medal expectations and, unfortunately the event got to him – he did not even advance from his event’s initial heat.

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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