While other companies seem to spend more time planning console launches than actually executing them, Tiger Telematics has revealed that it's not messing about with the next generation of Gizmondo handhelds – quietly announcing that it plans to launch a widescreen version of the handheld in early 2006.
"We're looking at bringing out future generations early next year, a widescreen version of our device that's not dissimilar in the size to the screen of the Sony PSP," CEO Mike Carrender told Next-Gen.biz recently. "Next generation" is probably a bit of a stretch then (much as existing games probably will be on the 16:9 screen), but if not a declaration then it's certainly a reiteration of Tiger's intention to remain in the handheld market despite strong competition.
The company, which according to numerous reports once had a decommissioned missile husk with "Sony" written on the side of it parked outside its company headquarters, launched the first-gen Gizmondo handheld – a hybrid of mobile phone functions, camera, multimedia player and games machine – in the UK this March, and has been quietly building up a software catalogue since then.
Its games line-up is still thought weak by many (although Carrender insists that "Colors", due out this autumn, "is as good as anything that Sony or Nintendo has"), but it's already home to some capable ports (SSX, for example, is perfectly serviceable, where it's been fairly rubbish on GBA in the past and still isn't out on DS/PSP) and the applications side has been ramping up for some time – with the addition recently of global positioning functionality.
However, despite a star-studded launch and a Regent Street shop opening earlier this year, Gizmondo still lags behind both of its main competitors in the software and style stakes. PSP is decidedly sexier and better supported, while DS is more single-minded, better supported and much cheaper – although the latter is more to do with the difference in business models, says Carrender. "[Sony and Nintendo] make all their money back in the software," he argues. "We have to sell above our costs. Obviously that lowers our initial sales somewhat but our early sales are to early adopters."
The other problem for Tiger, of course, is that with gamers having potentially bought DS and/or PSP handhelds this year (and Game Boys probably already gathering dust in cupboards), they're going to be less inclined to buy yet another handheld, however well-specced, supported and sexified, when it comes time to talk about Gizmondo Mk.2 early next year.
Whatever - the more we hear about it, we'll let you know.
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