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Linux games console fragged

Indrema's money ran out, and it couldn't find any more

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So farewell, then, Indrema and its Linux-based games console-cum-set-top box, killed off through a lack of funding thanks to the depression in the hi-tech industry.

Cuts have already taken place among the company's 50-odd staff, but the rest will be laid of this week, said Indrema president John Gildred, according to Video Business.

Indrema was founded in January 2000, and quickly unveiled its console, the L600, based on a 600MHz CPU with graphics driven by Nvidia's GeForce chip, as we reported at the time. The L600 was to have shipped this summer.

You have to admire Indrema's attempt to build a mass-market consumer product based on the open source operating system - not that its own code was as open, mind you - but it's not hard to see why venture capitalists would pass on the opportunity to fund it.

Independent's tend not to fare too well against major console players like Sony and Nintendo, or well-funded newcomers like Microsoft. Look at Atari's Jaguar, look at 3DO's ill-fated console, look at Apple's Pippin.

Then there's the availability of Linux-based games. Id Software has done sterling work releasing Quake III for the OS, as has porting specialist Loki, but sales haven't been too hot, and the market remains negligible despite a promising start.

Which is a real problem if you're selling a console on the back of them. Indrema was quick to spot the problem and spread its focus to take in media playback - MP3, DVD - and interactive TV functionality.

It wasn't enough, though. "Although there's a lot of interest in the product, the grim reality is that after six months of looking, we're not able to find funding to continue the operation," Gildred told VB.

However, like Fu Manchu, Gildred promised the world shall hear from him again. "I will develop a similar product and re-invent it under another umbrella without the videogame options," he said, now that he's working for "a major Japanese consumer electronics company". Let's hope his staff at Indrema land on their feet as easily as he has. ®

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