The Gizmondo handheld game console
|Type||Handheld game console|
|Generation||Seventh generation era|
|Release date||March 19, 2005|
|Discontinued||February 6, 2006|
|Units sold||Fewer than 25,000|
|CPU||ARM9 S3C2440 processor at 400 MHz|
|Best-selling game||Sticky Balls|
The Gizmondo is a handheld gaming console released by Tiger Telematics in March 2005. The electronics design was undertaken by Plextek Limited and the industrial design by Rick Dickinson. From the beginning, the project was managed by the founder and CEO, Carl Freer. It was never released in Japan or Australia.
The Gizmondo device was originally called Gametrac. Tiger Telematics first published on their website in October 2003 about the device being developed. 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, and later appeared at the German CeBIT show in March 2004. The company and the console were renamed Gizmondo around August 2004. Its OS was Windows CE 4.2 with .NET Framework. Its first-party games were developed in studios in Helsingborg, Sweden, and Manchester, England.
The Gizmondo was heavily advertised. British Formula One driver Jenson Button appeared on magazine adverts for the Gizmondo, 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 console. There were also two television adverts after the 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 crashing a Ferrari Enzo in Malibu, California and pleading guilty to numerous charges which led him to 2 years in jail.
Before the release, it was a popular topic among gamers due to its unique features such as Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, SMS & MMS, GPS and GPRS; all things which its competitors, Sony's PSP and the Nintendo DS, did not have at the time, as well as the short-lived Tapwave Zodiac and the ill-fated N-Gage. The Gizmondo was expected to be a huge commercial success by some journalists at the time; however, it never met its momentum.
With fewer than 25,000 units sold, the Gizmondo was named by GamePro as the worst selling handheld console in history. By 6 February 2006, the company was forced into bankruptcy and the Gizmondo was discontinued. In 2007, GameTrailers named it "the worst console of all time."
Gizmondo was released in the United Kingdom on 19 March 2005, initially priced at £229. Units enabled with "Smart Adds" had a reduced RRP of £129. 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 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.
A reference to the Gizmondo is made in the soccer movie Goal! when a meeting takes place in a Gizmondo store.
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".
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. 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.
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.
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. 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, 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. ' 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.
- Display: 72 mm (2.8 inch) TFT screen
- Resolution: 320 × 240 pixels
- CPU: Samsung ARM9 processor running at 400 MHz
- Graphics: Nvidia GoForce 3D 4500
- Graphics RAM: 1.2 MB 128-bit SRAM
- Graphics Performance: 1,000,000 polygons per second
- RAM: 128 MB 16-bit DDR
- ROM: 64 MB
- Sound: Built-in speaker
- Communication: Bluetooth class 2 for multiplayer gaming, GSM tri-band
- Ports: Stereo headset socket, Mini-USB client, SD flash card reader
- Power: Removable battery
- Temperature Range: 32 °F to 130 °F (0 °C to 55 °C)
- Multimedia: MPEG 4 video playback, ability to play back MP3, WAV and MIDI files via Windows Media Player 9
- JPEG camera
- Removable SIM card
- GPS tracking application
- GPRS mapping application
- GPRS Class 10
- MMS receive and send
- WAP 2.0
- Polyphonic ring tones
- Flight mode
Tiger Telematics announced a new Gizmondo model for release in Q2 2006. It was intended to have a larger, 4" screen and upgrades like Wi-Fi, TV-out support, an improved 480 × 272 pixel resolution, a 2-megapixel camera, and a 500 MHz processor. It also featured new icons on the buttons, replacing the old one. 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. However, as Tiger Telematics went bankrupt, the widescreen Gizmondo was never released.
The original planned launch date was May 2008, but this was quickly pushed back to November 2008, 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. By December 2008, the console had still not appeared, and another announcement was made about a complete redesign as a Windows CE or Google Android powered smart phone.
Since then, the Media Power website has gone offline, co-founder Mikael Ljungman has been arrested and convicted of serious fraud, and nothing more has been announced about the handheld mobile console.
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-  Archived January 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
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