Gizmondo

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Not to be confused with Gizmodo, the technology blog.
Gizmondo
Gizmondo.png
Gizmondo.jpg
Manufacturer Tiger Telematics
Type Handheld game console
Generation Seventh generation era
Release date March 19, 2005 (2005-03-19)
Discontinued February 6, 2006 (2006-02-06)
Units sold Fewer than 25,000[1]
Media SD, MMC
CPU ARM9 S3C2440 processor at 400 MHz
Online services GPRS
Best-selling game Sticky Balls

The Gizmondo is a handheld gaming console developed by Tiger Telematics. It was released in the UK, Sweden and the U.S. starting March 2005.[2] The electronics design was undertaken by Plextek Limited[3] and the industrial design by Rick Dickinson. From the beginning, the project was managed by the Swedish co-founder of Tiger Telematics, Carl Freer. Its first-party games were developed in studios in Helsingborg, Sweden, and Manchester, England. Gizmondo Europe, Ltd. was based in London, England, and was a subsidiary of Florida-based Tiger Telematics.[4]

The device was cutting-edge for its time, with its capabilities such as Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, SMS & MMS, GPS and GPRS. All these were lacked by Sony's PSP and the Nintendo DS.[5] The device ran on Windows CE 4.2 with .NET Framework. The Gizmondo was expected by some journalists to be a commercial success;[6] however, it never met its momentum.[7] The company extravagantly spent millions on promotions such as a celebrity party at London's Park Lane Hotel, and taking part at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, despite never making a profit.

The Gizmondo was overshadowed by executive Stefan Eriksson's involvement in a Swedish criminal organisation, the "Uppsalamaffian" (the Uppsala mafia).[8] Its American debut was delayed several times, and a widescreen version was announced before its release, resulting in low sales.[9][10] With fewer than 25,000 units sold, the Gizmondo was named by GamePro as the worst selling handheld console in history.[11] By 6 February 2006, the company was forced into bankruptcy after amassing US$300 million debt, and the Gizmondo stopped production.[12] Weeks thereafter, Eriksson crashed a rare Ferrari Enzo after driving at 162 mph in California,[13] and was later jailed for the crash and his criminal offenses.

History[edit]

The Gizmondo device was originally called Gametrac. Tiger Telematics first published on their website in October 2003 about the device being developed.[14] This came in response to Nokia's N-Gage. Gizmondo came in the press during December that year, and made its debut as a concept product at the Las Vegas CES show in January 2004,[15] and later appeared at the German CeBIT show in March 2004.[16] The company and the console were renamed Gizmondo around August 2004.[17]

The former Gizmondo store in Regent Street, London

British Formula One driver Jenson Button appeared on magazine adverts for the Gizmondo,[18] and also had his own licensed video game for the device, Chicane, though it never released due to a dispute with Tiger Telematics and the developer of the game. In London's Regent Street, Tiger Telematics opened a party with several celebrities invited to promote the device. Busta Rhymes, Jodie Kidd and Pharrell Williams were among the celebs invited, of whom some performed. There were also two television adverts that aired after release. Also, in an attempt to promote the console, Gizmondo's executive Stefan Eriksson took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race of 2005 in a Gizmondo-sponsored Ferrari 360 Modena GTC.

But the Gizmondo was overshadowed by the involvement of Eriksson in a Swedish mafia, and later for crashing a Ferrari Enzo in Malibu, California, which was apparently owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland. He pleaded guilty to numerous criminal charges which led him to 2 years in jail.[19][20]

In 2007, GameTrailers named it "the worst console of all time."[21] In a 2012 interview, Carl Freer said that the negative view of the device was a "slap in the face" for the development team, who he said obscured the vision and and hard work they invested in the product.[22] He also claimed that the Gizmondo was developed at a third the price Nokia spent on the N-Gage, and therefore even less than Sony and Nintendo.[23]

Widescreen Gizmondo[edit]

Tiger Telematics announced a new Gizmondo model for release in Q2 2006. It was intended to have a larger, 4" widescreen screen and upgrades like Wi-Fi, TV-out support, an improved 480 × 272 pixel resolution, a 2-megapixel camera, and a 500 MHz processor.[24] It also included tri-band GSM technology, effectively making it a mobile phone too.[25] It also featured new icons on the buttons. The widescreen Gizmondo was announced just a few weeks before the U.S. launch of the Gizmondo, possibly prompting some potential customers to not buy the Gizmondo, and instead wait for the improved model, in an example of the Osborne effect.[26] Tiger Telematics promised to show the device at CES 2006 in January, however it never appeared there.[27] Shortly thereafter Tiger went bankrupt, and thus the new Gizmondo was never released.

Bizmondo[edit]

In November 2004, before the Gizmondo's debut, Tiger Telematics announced plans to create a smartphone or PDA, as an enterprise-focused Gizmondo, dubbed the 'Bizmondo'. Before the announcement Tiger purchased a British corporate-oriented software developer, Integra SP. However the Bizmondo never saw the light of day. The second generation, widescreen Gizmondo that was announced in September 2005 added mobile telephony capabilities, that made it function as a smartphone already.[28][29]

Release[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Gizmondo was released in the United Kingdom on 19 March 2005, initially priced at £229.[30] Units enabled with "Smart Adds" had a reduced RRP of £129.[31] The Gizmondo was available from the Gizmondo flagship store on London's Regent Street, via Gizmondo's online shop, and other high-street and online retailers such as Argos, Dixons, Currys, John Lewis, although it was never clear how many units were actually introduced into those retail channels.

The SMS service of the Gizmondo enabled people to send messages by pre-pay Vodafone accounts bundled in with the device.

The Gizmondo was supposed to sell 4,500 units within an hour of launch. Instead, it managed 1,000. In April, just a month after release, the console had a £100 price cut.[7]

A reference to the Gizmondo is made in the soccer movie Goal![32] when a meeting takes place in a Gizmondo store.

Sweden[edit]

Gizmondo was launched in Sweden in the late Summer of 2005, with both "Smart Adds" and normal units available. Rather than opening flagship stores, the manufacturer relied on established retailers such as Webhallen. Fewer than 100 units were sold in Sweden. "Smart Adds" were never enabled for the Swedish market, even though the technology "was there".

United States[edit]

A booth selling Gizmondos in West Covina, California, November 2005

In the United States, the Gizmondo launched on October 22, 2005. Retail price was $400 for a unit without "Smart Ads", or $229 for a "Smart Ads" enabled device.[33] It was available only at one of several kiosks located in shopping malls throughout the US (operated by National Kiosk, LLC located in western corner of North Carolina). However, only 8 of the planned 14 games were ever released in the U.S., along with no CoPilot GPS software, though the software was sold on the British site for a week or two. There was little to no advertising, and some of their advertising was even put in magazines of Nintendo Power (Nintendo's official magazine). Plans to distribute the handheld through other retailers never materialized.

Games[edit]

The Gizmondo launched in the United Kingdom with only one game, Trailblazer. The console launched in the United States with a line-up of eight titles, including Trailblazer. In addition to these eight, six others were released in Europe only. A further 30 titles were known to have been in development for the system, but all were canceled before their release due to Tiger Telematics' bankruptcy. Also all games released in North America were effectively launch titles.

Certain games were capable of using augmented reality, most notably the unreleased game Colors. It was intended to be the first GPS video game, with the ability to track a user's real world movements in real time. Additionally several games including Motocross 2005, Hockey Rage 2005, and Sticky Balls had bluetooth multiplayer features. The accessibility to purchase Gizmondo games was limited. In the United States, games were only available through a small numbers of kiosks located in shopping malls across the country. After Tiger Telematic's bankruptcy, the Gizmondo and its games were left without any proper marketing or distribution.

Fan site Gizmondo Central reviewed all games, and Trailblazer and SSX 3 had the best score. Sticky Balls and FIFA Football 2005 were second-best.[34]

Gizmondo main menu screen

Smart Adds[edit]

The "Smart Adds" system was intended as a way for consumers to subsidize part of the cost of the unit. The apparent misspelling of the name was intentional and a trademark and company name were registered in the UK as "Smart Adds", though even Tiger Telematics occasionally slipped up and referred to it as Smart Ads in their publicity material.[35] A "Smart Adds"-enabled Gizmondo cost less (£129/$229), but would display advertisements on the Gizmondo's screen at random intervals when the user entered the home screen on the device. These advertisements would be downloaded via the device's GPRS data connection,[36] and would be targeted based on data inputted to the device. A maximum of three ads would be shown per day. Some ads would include special offers in the form of vouchers or barcodes, and some would utilize the device's GPS system to direct users to the nearest store carrying the advertised product.[37]

However, the "Smart Adds" service was never activated, and users who paid the reduced price for a "Smart Adds"-enabled device did not receive any advertisements through their device.[citation needed]

Technical specifications[edit]

Successor[edit]

Former Gizmondo director Carl Freer announced to a Swedish newspaper in November 2007 his intentions for a new Gizmondo, and said there were already 35 games in place, a manufacturing base in Shenzhen, China, and that he hoped the handheld to retail at US$99.[38][39][40][41]

The original planned launch date was May 2008,[42] but this was quickly pushed back to November 2008,[43] along with details of a new company, Media Power, behind the launch, headed by Carl Freer and his Swedish partner Mikael Ljungman, with development apparently proceeding according to the new schedule at least until September.[44] By December 2008, the console had still not appeared, which Freer blamed on the difficult economic conditions. The device was delayed to 2009 as a result.[45] The latest design prototype turned it into a smartphone running both Windows CE or Google Android.[46][47]

Since then, the Media Power website has gone offline, co-founder Mikael Ljungman has been arrested and convicted of serious fraud,[48] and nothing more has been announced about the handheld mobile console.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Snow, Blake (2007-07-30). "The 10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time". GamePro.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  2. ^ "Gizmondo gadget hits the shelves". BBC News Online. 2005-03-19. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  3. ^ Plextek wins industry award for work on mobile entertainment device 2004-10-01, retrieved 2009-07-03
  4. ^ http://spong.com/press_release/8481/Gizmondo-Launch-Brings-Londons-West-End-to-a-Standstill
  5. ^ http://venturebeat.com/community/2014/07/23/the-thin-line-between-video-game-success-and-failure/
  6. ^ "CEBIT 2005: Gizmondo out this week - Hardware - News". HEXUS.net. 2005-03-16. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  7. ^ a b "Gizmondo price drop - Hardware - News". HEXUS.net. 2005-04-12. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  8. ^ http://www.wired.com/2006/10/gizmondo/
  9. ^ http://www.defunctgames.com/feuds/78/tiger-doesnt-want-you-to-buy-the-gizmondo
  10. ^ http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/05/gizmondo_us_delay/
  11. ^ Snow, Blake (2011-06-07). "The 10 Worst Selling Handhelds Of All Time". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  12. ^ "Gizmondo Europe goes into liquidation". Pocket-Lint. 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  13. ^ http://www.latimes.com/local/la-fg-ferrari15may15-story.html
  14. ^ "Tiger Telematics, Inc. Announces a New Joint Venture to Develop the New... - re> JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/". Prnewswire.com. 2003-09-29. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  15. ^ "Xilinx, Plextek And Intrinsyc Enable CES Debut Of Gametrac - Latest Mobile Entertainment Device From Tiger Telematics". Xilinx.com. 2004-01-08. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  16. ^ Smith, Tony (2003-12-01). "Gametrac on The Register (uk)". Theregister.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  17. ^ i4u (2004-04-12). "Portable Video Player News: New Windows CE .NET Game Console from GameTrac". Pvp4u.com. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  18. ^ "Motorsport and Gizmondo didn't mix well – 2or4.co.uk – a motorsport blog". 2or4.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  19. ^ "Direktörerna har fått långa fängelsestraff" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  20. ^ "Rumor: Gizmondo execs with ties to the Swedish mafia have resigned". Gamespot. 2005-10-26. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  21. ^ (May 6, 2007). Top Ten Worst Consoles, GameTrailers. Accessed November 14, 2012.
  22. ^ http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-08-06-former-gizmondo-boss-claims-mafia-rumours-were-press-manipulation
  23. ^ http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-08-06-a-horse-named-gizmondo-the-inside-story-of-the-worlds-greatest-failed-console
  24. ^ Rojas, Peter (2005-09-17). "Widescreen Gizmondo specs and pics". Engadget.com. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  25. ^ http://hexus.net/gaming/news/hardware/1618-gizmondo-goes-widescreen/
  26. ^ "Widescreen Gizmondo specs and pics". Engadget. 2005-09-17. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  27. ^ http://www.gamespot.com/articles/more-woes-for-gizmondo/1100-6142505/
  28. ^ http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/05/tiger_smart_phone/
  29. ^ https://www.engadget.com/2004/11/06/gizmondo-becomes-bizmondo/
  30. ^ "Gizmondo gadget hits the shelves". BBC News. 2005-03-19. 
  31. ^ "Gizmondo unveils 'adverts-for-consoles' scheme". The Resgister. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  32. ^ Goal! (film)[dead link]
  33. ^ "What Happened To: The Gizmondo handheld game system". GamerTell. 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  34. ^ "Gizmondo Central". Homepage.ntlworld.com. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  35. ^ "how not to spell gizmondo". Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  36. ^ Caie, Martin (2005-04-15). "In-service advertising reduces price of Gizmondo". Retrieved 2015-08-27. 
  37. ^ Gizmondo - all about smart ads. 
  38. ^ http://www.gpsbusinessnews.com/Gizmondo-back-from-ashes_a499.html
  39. ^ http://www.realtid.se/carl-freer-talar-ut-i-realtidse-0
  40. ^ "Carl Freer startar om Gizmondo" (in Swedish). Realtid.se. 2007-11-13. 
  41. ^ "English translation: Carl Freer Promises to Resurrect Gizmondo". 
  42. ^ "Carl Freer:"I m going to resurrect Gizmondo" -- indeed he is". Engadget. 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  43. ^ "Carl Freer: Gizmondo Arrives Late 2008". 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  44. ^ "The Nordic Link: Gizmondo 2 Is Here - Sales start in November/December". 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  45. ^ https://www.destructoid.com/gizmondo-2-pushed-back-to-2009-only-delaying-the-inevitable-115573.phtml
  46. ^ "Gizmondo 2 turns into a smartphone". 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  47. ^ Flatley, Joseph (2008-12-20). "Surprise! No new Gizmondo for 2008". Engadget. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  48. ^ "Bagger Points Finger At Swedish Partner". Copenhagen Post. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  49. ^ [1] Archived January 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]