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Gizmondo pushes Button after Jordan F1 deal deflates

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Tiger Telematics, the developer of the oddly named Gizmondo 'N-Gage with GPS' handheld games console, last week announced the endorsement of Chicane, a Formula One racing game being developed exclusively for its gadget, by British F1 driver Jensen Button.

Button, who came fourth in this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, may be puzzled to see that Tiger's Gizmondo website fails to mention the team he drives for: British American Racing (BAR).

Could it be because BAR is sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes, a brand used by British American Tobacco (BAT), and hardly a product Tiger might want associated with its kiddie-oriented games console?

Or perhaps it's because Tiger is sponsoring another F1 team: Jordan. Almost a year ago, Jordan and Tiger announced the telematics company would pay to have Gizmondo - then known as Gametrac - splashed on Jordan's cars.

"The on-car signage is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the marketing opportunities such a deal represents," gushed Tiger CEO Michael Carrender - what a wonderfully appropriate name, no?

"We look forward to a fruitful, on-going relationship with Jordan Grand Prix," Carrender added at the time.

Odd, then, that Jordan's F1 website doesn't mention Tiger, Gametrac or Gizmondo among the team's various partners.

We asked Jordan why not. "In July 2003 Tiger Telematics concluded a sponsorship agreement with Jordan Grand Prix for 2003 and 2004, however they reneged on the agreement," a team spokeswoman alleged. According to Jordan, "the matter is being resolved by legal process".

Tiger announced it was changing the device's name from Gametrac to Gizmondo in April this year. A cynic might conclude that the name-change was made to provide Tiger with a possible way out of the sponsorship deal. Indeed, when Tiger changed the name, it admitted the move had been made "pending legal issues concerning the use of the Gametrac name". It didn't say with whom it was embroiled in legal argument, but Jordan seems a likely contender.

Details of the Gametrac console and the technology partners behind it were exclusively revealed by The Register in December 2003. It is due to debut in September, in the UK. ®

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