Useful Notes: Gizmondo

Tiger Telematics' note  sole attempt at entering the lucrative handheld gaming market, the Gizmondo (March 2005-February 2006) is one of the more interesting failures in video game history.

The handheld began with massive potential unlike most of its competitors at the time (sans the N-Gage), the Gizmondo supported real-time, fairly-good 3D graphics along with 2D sprites, and besides games it had the built-in ability to take pictures, send emails, and play movies. It even worked as a fully-functional GPS!

With all that going for it, and initially anticipated as a success, the Gizmondo ultimately crashed and burned with both critics and retail, for the reasons fivefold:
  1. The marketing was almost nonexistent it was only available on their website, in the occasional strip mall, or from the Gizmondo shop in London's Regent Street (which apparently chewed up a ton of the parent company's money and contributed to their early demise).
  2. There were two versions released at the same time, with the main version having the attractive price of $400. While there was a budget "Smart Ads" version for about $230, the only difference was forcing you to sit through commercials while playing!note 
  3. A screen that was impractically small, about the size of a cell phone. A new Gizmondo model with a 4 inch widescreen format was announced In 2006, but it never saw the light of day.
  4. A positively pathetic battery life of 90 minutes when playing games!
  5. Speaking of games, there were only eight released in the US and none were well received by critics...although it did result in some rather quirky titles like Stickyballs and Momma Can I Mow the Lawn?

The Gizmondo was dead on arrival, not even selling an abysmal 25,000 units, making it the second worst-selling system in video game history, and the worst selling handheld game system of all time note  prompting it to be discontinued in early February 2006 (less than a year after it's March 2005 release) and thus sending Tiger Telematics spiraling into bankruptcy. While a revival attempt was planned circa 2008, it was largely overshadowed by the fact that co-creator Stefan Erikson was involved in the Swedish Mafia, has been arrested on drug and illegal firearm possession charges, and was later found on a crashed Ferrari after speeding against a Ford GT—and then its other co-creator, Mikael Ljungman, was arrested and convicted on charges of serious fraud; all of that basically killed whatever chance the Gizmondo had left of making any kind of comeback.

On a side note, the handheld made the top of ScrewAttack's "Top 10 Worst Video Game Busts" list.

Technical specifications

  • Display: 72 mm (2.8 inch) TFT screen
  • Resolution: 320 240 pixels
  • CPU: Samsung ARM 9 processor running at 400 M Hz
  • Graphics: Nvidia Go Force 3D 4500
  • Graphics RAM: 1.2 MB 128-bit SRAM
  • Graphics Performance: 1,000,000 triangles 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: 32F to 130F (0C to 55C)
  • 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
  • SMS
  • MMS receive and send
  • WAP 2.0
  • Polyphonic ring tones
  • Flight mode