Gizmondo: tipped as gaming hit

Gizmondo: tipped as gaming hit

Australia and New Zealand's sole distributor of Tiger Telematics' Gizmondo handheld gaming device, Auckland-based Renaissance, will receive review units before the end of the year, according to managing director, Paul Johnston.

A press statement has confirmed the device will be launched in the UK on October 29. Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand will follow as key target markets.

Johnston said his channel was ready to start having a closer look at the devices to prepare for a local launch in the first quarter of next year.

"We've kept fairly quiet so far and have been doing a lot of market research," he said.

"Once the units arrive we will be holding reseller events - we know exactly where we are going with this as far as the channel is concerned. We want to make sure we get it right first time."

Johnston said the initial response to Gizmondo from resellers had been positive and he expected to shift tens and tens of thousands of units.

"We've had preliminary discuss­ions with some people and everybody said it sounds fantastic," he said. "We'll be taking it to our partners as soon as possible."

One of the challenges Tiger Telematics will face in cracking the handheld gaming market is pressure from established manufacturers Nintendo and Sony Computer Electronics.

The Gizmondo handset, originally called Gametrac before it was renamed in April, features proprietary games, mobile messaging, a digital camera, music and video player and a 2.8-inch TFT colour screen.

Running on Windows CE, the device contains a 400MHz Intel processor and 64-bit graphics accelerator.

The system also uses GPS satellite tracking for players to interact with their immediate environment and other Gizmondo users nearby.

Press material for the Gizmondo launch claims the device will initially support 12 games, with eight more to be released in the weeks immediately after it hits stores.

It also hints at possible competition for Apple's iPod - Gizmondo Music has been set up as a separate company to allow musicians to release music on Gizmondo flash memory cards.

"We've agreed to a deal with the leading online music company OD2 for legal music downloads, which will be available to Gizmondo users from launch," Gizmondo head of sales, Jamie Robertson, said.

"OD2 is increasing its catalogue from 350,000 tracks to more than 1.3 million which would make it larger than Apple's iTunes or Napster, both of which have more than 700,000 songs."

The device will debut at £595 in the UK but pricing information for Australia is yet to be announced.

Johnston is happy the gadget is being compared to Nintendo's GameBoy Advance.

"The difference between a handheld games unit and this, is like comparing a Franklyn Spellchecker to a Palm," he said.

"If this was just a standalone device I would say it had some limitations, but it is through interactivity that popularity of this device is going to explode."

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