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Gizmondo US launch 'put back to October'

Sensible move, says firm

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Gizmondo has confirmed that the US release of its GPS-enabled handheld games console has been delayed - again.

In May, the company touted 11 August as the date on which the would-be Sony PSP and Nintendo DS rival would hit the streets. This week, it emerged that US gaming retailer EBGames was listing the console's debut as 20 September.

Yesterday, company spokespeople admitted the August deadline would be missed. Instead, the console will arrive in October.

"August is a slow month for retail, and with two major items of software delayed, it made little sense to launch the machine," one company source said, according to a GamesIndustry.biz report.

The two titles the company is waiting for are believed to be a satellite navigation package and an unnamed top-tier US game.

Certainly, software is proving tricky for Gizmondo. Of the 23 titles listed on the firm's website, fewer than half are described as being available to buy. However, August should see the release of Electronic Arts' FIFA 2005 and SSX 3, the first of a handful of titles from major games publishers. SCi and Microsoft have both announced support for the device, though as yet no release dates have been made public.

Last month, Gizmondo admitted it was "streamlining" its UK operation and focusing development efforts at its Los Angeles office - the launch delay should give the company more time to get this up and running. So far, the UK is the only territory in which the device has shipped.

Originally anticipated in Q2 2004, Gizmondo console's was eventually pegged to 29 October 2004. It missed that key pre-Christmas slot - possibly due to the last-minute decision to incorporate mobile graphics technology from Nvidia, which had only just become available - and didn't hit the street until 19 March.

In the meantime, the US debut has been announced to be taking place in Q1 2005, Q2 2005, Summer 2005, then 11 August and now sometime in October.

A Gizmondo spokesperson said the company would announce UK console sales figures shortly, but needs to complete a number of filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission first, the GamesIndustry.biz report reveals.

Indeed Gizmondo does. The Register's enquiries reveal that its parent company, Florida-based Tiger Telematics, has made no results filings for quarters after the three months to 30 September 2004, when it lost just over $17.9m on revenues of $268,000. In April this year it notified the SEC that it would have to delay such filings because "until late 2004, [it] did not have sufficient cash to retain and pay independent certified public accountants to audit its financial statements". (Our italics)

There's no doubt that the cost of developing something like Gizmondo and building a software ecosystem around it would stretch any company's resources. That's no great surprise: such is the scale of the games industry, that it has a very high price of entry. Taking on companies like Nintendo and Sony requires very considerable financial resources.

And Gizmondo has been very ambitious. It has maintained a necessarily high profile at trade shows like CES and E3. In January, it opened a prestigious retail site on London's expensive Regent Street, and has since announced plans to open stores in 20 more high-class shopping zones around the world. It has also stated its intention to release a business-oriented device, dubbed the 'Bizmondo', this year. ®

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