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Gizmondo co-founder to revive ill-fated console

Second time lucky?

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Ex-Gizmondo exec Carl Freer is to revive the ill-fated handheld games console, which could be back on sale by May for just $99 if he gets his way.

Incredible, some peoples' perseverence... And it's interesting that news of the revival broke almost two years to the very day that Gizmondo Europe, the gadget's original owner, went bankrupt.

Freer comments were oiginally made last November but appeared in Swedish. This week, however, a translation was published. In it, Freer says he wants another go at making a success of the handheld console, which mixed gaming with GPS navgation and text messaging. It also failed to sell in any significant numbers, despite the lavish launch of a flagship store on London's Regent Street up-market retail zone and a flash US debut.

Freer's comments idicate the revival will be based on the original design and technology. He claimed to have 35 games, six of which are new, and more are in development. He also said he wants to follow up the launch with a widescreen version of the console that could be out in time for Christmas.

Gizmondo promised a widescreen handheld back in 2005, and even touted a third device, aimed at businesspeople. Neither device ever made it to market, and when the company finally admitted it had run out of money it looked like they never would.

We're still highly sceptical. Freer, however, maintains he has a deal in place with a Chinese manufacturer that has agreed to make the consoles in return for exclusive rights on local sales of the device.

Details of the Gametrac, the handheld console that became the Gizmondo were exclusively revealed by The Register back in December 2003. Delay after delay hit the handheld's launch, and a bid to sponsor what was then the Jordan Formula One racing team ended in legal action when Jordan accused it of reneging on the agreement.

The pair later settled out of court, with Jordan taking a wedge of Gizmondo Europe shares instead of the promised cash. In his interview, Freer said he hopes the new Gizmondo can pay off the collapsed firm's debts and make good its promises to investors.

Freer himself had gone before Gizmondo collapsed. He resigned from the company in October 2005 when colleague Stefan Eriksson's links with Sweden's criminal underworld came to light. Freer had acquired Eriksson's Stockholm games company in a bid to kickstart development of software for the handheld. But in 2005, Swedish paper Aftonbladet revealed Eriksson had received criminal convictions in the 1990s. This week he left prison in the US after serving time on charges of embezzlement and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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