How are we keeping up with what is going on at the Olympics?
Google has released an infographic showing how users have kept up with the Olympics. At some points during the opening ceremony more people were searching for Olympics related news and info on mobile phones and tablets than they were on desktops. Although partly to do with the fact that most people would have been reluctant to leave their sofas during the Olympic ceremony, the whole Olympic Games has been pretty much lived online via mobile communications.
As you can see below, during the first two days of the games 46% of all Olympic related Google searches took place on mobile devices in the UK. It’s pretty encouraging to see the UK leading the way in Europe, and can’t just be down to the fact that the games are being hosted in London. The UK is a digital leader in Europe – the continent that already accounts for more mobile Google searches than any other continent.
The UK major network operators have been very supportive of this trend, which is an encouraging trend as we build up to a 2013 release for the 4G spectrum. O2 have offered free WiFi coverage to parts of central London for all, regardless of whether you’re on O2 or not. One reason for this is obviously a promotional interest, but it also represents the underlying weaknesses in the UK’s infrastructure.
O2 offer the WiFi option as a means of relieving pressure on their 3G data network. As it was, the first few days of the Olympics still struggled to cope with the pressure. The BBC’s coverage was plagued by inaccurate stats and erroneous timing data as the system which fed the Olympic Broadcasting Services. Organisers had to embarrassingly request spectators and people in the area to cut down on tweets and texts during key events.
The phrase “hoist by your own petard” comes to mind. It was at least slightly ironic that the London Olympics was unable to handle all of the web technology that it was so proud to have founded. Tim Berners Lee was on show during the opening ceremony but his creation was so popular that it nearly brought one of the events to its knees. The opening ceremony even included a live tweet sent by Sir Tim, which was displayed on the LED displays in the stands for the whole world to see.
This Olympics has shown that the UK desperately needs the infrastructure upgrade that 4G promises. The network could not withstand year round nationwide usage like that displayed during the Olympics in London. The desire, the technology and the phones are in people’s hands, but the infrastructure is not there to support it. All it needs is the network operator to quit squabbling and roll out 4G. You can be pretty sure that Google’s mobile search share data for the UK will only continue to increase next year as the next generation is rolled out.
Ollie Sheerin writes about tech, gadgets and the mobile phone industry. When I’m not doing this for fun I do SEO promoting Orange offers over at Store Orange.