The amazing Sony Ericsson race

A team member takes the plunge, all in the name of Sony Ericsson (image: Charlie Fripp)

To celebrate the launch of the new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Neo smart phones, Sony Ericsson invited around 30 journalists from all over South Africa to participate in a local version of The Amazing Race, complete with clues and tasks.

Gathering at the Sony Ericsson office in Paulshof in Johannesburg early in the morning, it was clear that all the invited guests were very excited about the day’s happenings.

With only certain activities hinted to previously, the day got off to a start with a light breakfast and informative presentations by Sony Ericsson representatives and Country Manager for Google South Africa, Brett St Clair.

St Clair was present as the new Arc and Neo smart phones are all released with Google’s updated Navigation apps, which the journalist would have to use during their race.

After a short walkthrough on the new functions in Google’s Navigation, the journalists were divided into four teams of six members each, with ITNewsAfrica paired with Girl Guides, News24 and Ignition TV in Team Green.

Armed with a shiny new Sony Ericsson Arc, a couple of snacks, a rule book and a handful of hints, it was on to the first destination.

Deciphering the first clue and inputting the GPS co-ordinates into the Google Maps Navigation for Mobile, it soon became clear that stop one would be bungee jumping in Orlando in Soweto. Surveying the two majestic former coal cooling towers, two members of Team Green decided that they will literally take the plunge and proceeded to successfully make the 100m drop without a hitch.

Receiving a piece of a puzzle upon completion, it was on to the second stop which was luckily just around the corner. After the bungee jump, the team was really excited about the rest of the day, and a competitive spirit started to take hold.

About three blocks up the road, the next stop was B’s Museum Restaurant in Orlando West, where participants had the opportunity to grab a quick snack and a drink, but only after completing their given task. Each team was asked to build the Android mascot from any number of the given materials, and Team Green closed the gap on the leading team by building a rather cute replica in about 10 minutes.

Catching a breath and taking in the scenery, the team successfully completed the third clue, which would take place about 10km away in Pimville to wash a taxi and add some colour to the community.

With the men grabbing a bucket filled with icy water and some soap, the women took to a nearby wall where they were instructed to paint the green Android mascot. Although taxis are bigger than the average car, three men made small work of the washing, and Team Green was on the road again.

Since the Sony Ericsson Arc and Neo all run on Android 2.3 software, the mascot was a central theme for the day and again using Google Maps Navigation for Mobile, Team Green gave the driver direction on how to reach Maponya mall.

Arriving at the main entrance, it started to emerge that it will be a true race for the finish line and Team Green and another team arrived at the same time to search for the Android mascot – which was wondering the large mall. Once spotted by the teams, they had to snap a quick photo of him with their given Arcs and head back to the awaiting taxi.

After each completed task, teams were given one-fourth of a clue in the form of a sticker, which would later make up the destination of the final “pit stop”. Inputting the co-ordinates, Team Green realised the final destination was back at Sony Ericsson’s office, and instructed the driver to head home.

Even on the freeway it was a tight race to the finish, as another team was constantly biting at heels of the green team. Luckily the other team’s driver made an error in calculation, and it appeared that Team Green might just be home-free.

ITNewsAfrica’s team did indeed arrive at the final destination first, and were crowned the winners after all the clues, the four stickers and an accompanying crossword puzzle was thoroughly checked.

Since nobody in the team was familiar with Soweto, the navigation would not have been possible without Google Maps navigation for Mobile. The Sony Ericsson Arc also added to the experience by being lightweight, easy to navigate quickly and positively stunning.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor