London Olympics New Media Head Warns Brazil to Get Moving with Mobile Now

For the organizers of the next Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, 2016 may still feel a long way off. But Alex Balfour, head of new media at the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), has a message for mobile planners: It’s not as far away as it seems.

Balfour spoke candidly with The Guardian about 2012 London Olympic Games, 60% of the content for which was accessed via mobile devices. This number came as a surprise to organizers, who had anticipated higher percentages of content consuming via more traditional means.

Mobile Shortcomings

He said that many of event-related apps were launched just six months prior to the Games, providing very little time for testing and tweaking. In many cases, Locog simply did not have the mobile capacity necessary for more complex technologies, in one instance being forced to pull a non-sport product upon finding that it was impossible, technically, to deliver.

Moreover, Balfour noted location services from Facebook and Foursquare as points of failure. He revealed that there were 667,000 check-ins on to 63 official Places via Facebook and 100,000 check-ins on Foursquare related to Olympic venues. However, the most popular check-in during the Games was made at Hyde Park, which was not listed as an official location.

There’s No Time Better than the Present

His advice for Brazil’s organizers? Get moving now. It’s likely that technology will change over the next four years, and perhaps a new Twitter or Facebook will appear. Unfortunately, the Brazilian Olympic Committee won’t have the luxury of hanging back to see what happens. Operating under the assumption that digital use will intensify, they’ve got no choice but to start preparations right away.

On a large scale, a few recent events indicate that measures are already being taken – Lenovo’s acquisition of CEE, Nokia Siemens’ 4G plant announcement and Foxconn’s revelation that it will establish a fifth hub in the country. However, mobile success will depend on the efforts of small players as well, representing a huge opportunity for app developers, entrepreneurs and engineers to start formulating their ideas now.