Lenovo: New tech can fire up Olympics, too

While the vendor is obligated to supply mature technology for the Beijing Olympics, Lenovo still gets to showcase its newer products in the ongoing Olympic Torch Relay.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

As the hardware supplier for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Lenovo's task is to ensure its products are mature enough to support the global sporting event without a hitch. Despite this prerequisite, there is still room for newer technology to play a part in the Games, says a company executive.

Leon Xie, Lenovo's director of Olympic partnership and deputy general manager for Olympic business department, said in an interview Friday that "reliability is No. 1" as far as products delivered to the BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad) are concerned.

"The challenge for us is to keep the entire [technical] specs and model relatively fixed from the beginning to the end, which will last more than two-and-a-half years [from the time Lenovo first began planning for the Games]," said Xie.

Within that timeframe, he noted, new technology such as faster chips or newer material for computers will inevitably emerge. However, it was necessary for Lenovo to refrain from making major adjustments "in order to maximize the stability and the reliability of the products and support in the Games", Xie explained.

For example, the Lenovo executive last May announced that Windows Vista would not be supported in the Beijing games because the Microsoft operating system had yet to be launched when specifications for computing equipment were being finalized.

However, Xie said, that does not mean there is no leeway for newer products and technology to be introduced. "On one hand, we have to define and freeze the models; on the other hand, we need to keep enough flexibility to make adjustments when the time comes," he said.

One such example was the inclusion of recently launched IdeaPad and ThinkPad X300 notebook in the ongoing Olympic Torch Relay. Both products will be used by Lenovo's team to support the operations during the relay, said Xie.

The IdeaPad U110 will be deployed to set up a network and to provide connectivity, printing and office applications to various users such as the BOCOG officials. The ThinkPad will be used to plan and manage logistical arrangements.

When Beijing 2008 commences in August, Lenovo expects to commit over 14,400 units of equipment including desktops, laptops, printers and servers. A technical team comprising some 600 IT experts, over 100 of whom were involved in the 2006 Torino games, will be part of the support team for the upcoming summer games.

Lenovo's stint as a technology partner for the Olympics will end by year-end, with Acer taking on the role of hardware provider for the London Olympics in 2012. According to Xie, Lenovo currently has no plans to sign on as a technology partner for future games.

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