Phone and Games — get Olympics news on your mobile

Fleur Doidge
6 August, 2008
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Many of you will have been counting down to this weekend’s opening of the Beijing summer Olympiad using Apple’s own Dashboard widget, made by the official Games timekeeper OMEGA.

If you’re fortunate enough to be going to Beijing, definitely have a hunt for the Chinese capital’s first Apple store, on Qianmen Street, on the south side of Tian’anmen Square. But if, like most of us, you won’t be so lucky as to attend the games — whether due to prior engagement, global internet scam or dislike of vast crowds — you can still technologically slake your desire to follow the athletes in the sports of your choice from Australia.

Sure, you can sit home all day and watch everything on TV. But we know you have a life. Don’t you? So we thought we’d check out which service providers are making special offers for the iPhone and laptop users among us.

When the opening ceremony starts at 8pm on Friday 8 August in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, it will be 10pm in Sydney. Beijing is only two hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), so experiencing the Games will be much easier than it was four years ago in Athens, which is seven hours behind. Closing ceremony is scheduled for 24 August from 9pm AEST.

You can of course simply use your iPhone or MacBook to access the official Games web site in English, or to view the broadcasts of various TV channels. If you have an iPhone and your local service provider is Telstra, you get live Channel 7 coverage of the Games on 3G phones, and you can also get live highlights by video-clip, SMS updates and up-to-date medal tallies, events schedules and stories. Some “Olympic Mobile Deals” are on offer too from Telstra — not that any of them include an iPhone.

If your service provider is Optus, you can get Channel 9 live sports news, score updates and details of events and athletes via myZoo — but funnily enough Optus doesn’t seem to be promoting any special offers for 8-24 August. Neither is Optus’s wholly-owned partner Virgin Mobile.

Neither, apparently, is Vodafone. Data plans will get you the usual browsing capability, but there don’t appear to be any special deals relating to Olympic coverage. (Although, with a Virgin Mobile iPhone, you can visit the Vibe “Sports Bar” for real-time updates and reports on all sports, including the Games).

It’s a pity, because the 2008 Summer Games would be a great opportunity to attract mobile media virgins to the plethora of services available, soon after the latest iPhone launch. 3G services are an excellent earner for telcos suffering from ever-shrinking revenues.

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