Acer uses PC-only strategy for Asian Games

As the official IT sponsor of the forthcoming 13th Asian Games, Taiwan's Acer Group is facing what perhaps is one of its biggest challenges ever.

Loosely modelled after the summer Olympics, this year's Asian Games, to be held December 6 to 20 in Bangkok, Thailand, are expected to be the largest in the history of the event and draw nearly 8000 athletes from 42 countries.

Unlike the mainframe and minicomputer systems deployed by IBM at the Olympics, however, Acer has committed to implementing a pure PC-technology based, client-server system at the Bangkok event.

In addition, Acer has nowhere near the level of in-house system integration expertise as an IBM. So far, at least, it looks like all systems are go. During a three-day pre-Games trial event in Bangkok earlier this month, competitions were held at three different venues, and Acer's client-server system was awarded a zero-defect rating by the IT Committee of the 13th Asian Games, Acer said in a statement today.

As the official IT sponsor of the Asian Games, Acer is providing all the computer systems for the event, including hardware, application software and system integration services.

Acer's sponsorship of the Games, valued at about $US10 million, calls for the Taiwan-based PC vendor to deploy 1800 PC clients and 200 servers in over 100 locations connected by a wide area network (WAN), Acer said. To maintain and service the system during the sports event, Acer has trained 300 engineers as well as 800 volunteers, the company said.

Acer's sponsorship of the Asian Games has not been without problems, however, and the computer vendor did not commit to supporting the event until April of this year.

At the heart of the controversy was a decision by the organisers to separate telecommunications and networking from the computer systems sponsorship, which last year almost caused Acer to withdraw its bid to sponsor the games. In the end, however, Acer agreed to the new terms, and the telecommunications and networking sponsorship, valued at $5 million, will be provided by Samart, a Bangkok-based telecommunications company.

Asia's financial crisis is also creating its fair share of problems for the organisers. At least in part due to the economic and political turmoil wreaking havoc in large parts of Asia, several countries will be sending smaller contingents than originally planned, according to recently published reports.

Acer, in Taipei, Taiwan, can be reached on the Web at http://www.acer.com/ Samart, in Bangkok, Thailand, is at http://www.samartcorp.com/ More information about the13th Asian Games can be found at http://www.asiangames.th/

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