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Olympic tech's winners and losers

Steven Schwankert | Aug. 26, 2008
A few awards have yet to be given out: those for the winners and losers when it came to technology at the games.

Loser: China Mobile and China Netcom were top-level Olympic sponsors who really had nothing to win at the games. China Mobile is already the world's largest mobile service provider. That said, they brought nothing new or interesting to the "High-tech Olympics." Their trial of Chinese-developed 3G (third-generation) telephony standard TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) was little more than a glorified 2.5G service, and spells trouble for the commercial launch of that service later this year.

China Netcom provided bandwidth and networking for the games. Yep, they sure did. Internet service was no better or no worse at any other time of the year. Their pavilion on the Olympic Green was also the least interesting of any top sponsors, and was little more than a glorified photo exhibition of the development of telecom services in China. It may not matter -- as part of its merger with mobile provider China Unicom, the China Netcom name is about to disappear anyway.

Winner: Samsung won hearts and minds at the games with their pavilion, which featured green technology including introducing handsets with cases made from bio-plastics, and gave many users their first taste of 3G service through their distribution of handsets to Olympic executives and reporters. Their big screen TV and improvised lawn gave spectators one of the few shady spaces that also offered viewing for the games, along with providing athletes with Internet access in their lounge. A parade of Chinese and Korean gold medalists and Korean pop star Rain visiting the pavilion didn't hurt in attracting visitors.


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