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Samsung network aims to keep Olympics on track

Cell phones and special network let officials and reporters access event results, medal counts, event cancellations and the like.

Samsung has distributed about 14,000 cell phones and created a special network at the Olympics this year to demonstrate how phones are often faster than feet.

The Korean electronics giant, one of the corporate partners for the Games, set up what it calls the Wireless Olympic Works, or WOW, a cellular network that gives designated users information about event results, medal counts, event cancellations and the like. WOW-enabled phones were given to officials, some members of the press and some athletes.

The phones and the network are designed to overcome one of the nagging problems in the Olympics: getting from one place to another. Crowds, traffic and rapidly changing schedules periodically cause athletes or spectators to miss events.

Obtaining information has also often been tough. At previous Summer Games, which took place in the days before Wi-Fi and smart phones, officials got information about individual sporting events, accommodations or athletes from fixed terminals, according to Samsung, or, in the really early years, from the side of an amphora.

The applications available on the WOW network include Mobile Info2004, which provides news, medal tallies, athlete biographies and schedules, and Information on Demand, which sends out alerts on preselected topics to phone owners. The phones also hook into a messaging service that provides information on official announcements, emergency alerts and scheduling alerts.

The company also came out with a limited edition of phones with a gold case and the Olympic logo to commemorate the Games.

Samsung declined to detail its marketing budget for the Games. Still, the company says that Olympic sponsorship and marketing have been a success. Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the company's brand value, a measure of annual revenue that consulting firm Interbrand attributes to brand name, has risen from $5.22 billion to $12.55 billion.

In cell phones, Samsung has risen from sixth place worldwide, with a market share 5 percent, to second place, with 14.47 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.