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  • Greetings and welcome to an LGR thing!

  • And this is the Tiger Telematics Gizmondo released in 2005 at an initial asking price

  • of 399 US dollars.

  • This infamous handheld gaming device was arguably doomed from the start due to a variety of

  • extenuating circumstances that we will talk about.

  • And it became one of the most infamous tech failures to come out of the first decade of

  • the 2000s.

  • It sold fewer than 25,000 units worldwide before its parent company underwent bankruptcy

  • and liquidation in February of 2006.

  • Yeah, less than 25,000 units.

  • Which means that it did even worse than one of its contemporaries, the Tapwave Zodiac,

  • which was also a huge flop but almost looks like a success in comparison with that selling

  • around 200,000 units.

  • So a big thank you to Adrian for lending me this complete in box example to make this

  • video, because Gizmondo packages like this are rare and getting harder to find and I

  • am excited to talk about it.

  • But first I do want to attempt to answer some of the questions

  • as to why this thing ended up how it did.

  • What was it about the Gizmondo that made it such a noteworthy story of failure?

  • Well that is quite the tale indeed, involving investment scams, ties to organized crime,

  • and a high-speed Ferrari crashing so hard it tore in half.

  • And while the entire story of what happened behind the scenes is worthy of a documentary

  • really, today we're mostly going to be focusing on the hardware itself.

  • But I cannot resist including a condensed overview of the story so let's go ahead and

  • start with Tiger Telematics, a company not to be confused with Tiger Electronics, that

  • began in the year 2000 as Eagle Eye Scandinavian.

  • An electronics business in Sweden founded by Mr. Carl Freer.

  • Now Eagle Eye mostly distributed GPS devices for their first couple years on the market

  • but in a rather strange turn of events in 2002 they were acquired by an American carpet

  • and flooring company based in Jacksonville, Florida called Floor Decor.

  • Now this business partnership was the brainchild of Stefan Eriksson, an old acquaintance of

  • Carl Freer and a fellow Swede.

  • And this business deal allegedly was due to wanting to make use of Floor Decor’s over-the-counter

  • stock listing, renaming the merged companies as Tiger Telematics.

  • The initial idea was to use Eagle Eye’s GPS experience to create a “child tracking

  • systemin the form of a portable device to let parents know where their kids are 24/7.

  • But due to the, uh, unsettling nature of the prospect, plus the fact that getting children

  • to keep a GPS tracking device with them at all times was a tough sell, Tiger decided

  • to shift gears in 2003.

  • Their new product was an expansion on the idea they called Gametrac, and the goal was

  • to provide the same child-tracking service but put it inside of a portable game console

  • instead so that kids would be more inclined to keep it with them.

  • Early press photos showed a small yellow device that somewhat resembled a pager in its design

  • accompanied by an announcement that game track would be the official sponsor of the Eddie

  • Jordan Grand Prix team starting in 2003.

  • Then in November they showed the first prototypes to the public revealing a sleek all-metal

  • housing with over 100 Java and Mophun games said to be ready for its launch date, all

  • rather promising stuff!

  • But by the time it finally showed up at the Microsoft booth at the 2004 Consumer Electronics

  • Show in Las Vegas, the design had changed somewhat.

  • there was no metal case anymore since it apparently interfered with the GPS connection and there

  • was little to no sign of the 100+ games promised the year before.

  • Furthermore there was a trademark dispute over the name Gametrac in the UK so a new

  • name was soon devised: Gizmondo.

  • Not to be confused with Gizmodo the tech blog.

  • As well as a uk-based subsidiary taking care of much of the marketing known as Gizmondo Europe.

  • And the UK was also the first to receive the Gizmondo

  • device when it finally launched on March 19 2005.

  • And it was not just sold online and in your expected retailers.

  • The company went all out with their own flagship retail store on London's Regent Street.

  • They even flew in performers like Busta Rhymes, Pharrell Williams, and Sting to hang out and

  • perform for their launch event, partying it up with hosts Tom Green and Dannii Minogue.

  • And in another promotion Gizmondos Stefan Eriksson entered the 2005 24 Hours of LeMans

  • race in his own Gizmondo-sponsored Ferrari 360 GTC.

  • However, for all the publicity stunts and celebrity-ridden parties, actual Gizmondo

  • sales were pitiful from the start.

  • Tiger expected to sell 4,500 units on launch day alone but

  • barely managed to move a thousand of them.

  • The problems with it were numerous but one of the biggest was the price.

  • The Gizmondo cost more than twice as much as the recently launched Nintendo DS with

  • CNN Money quoted as saying that on top of its other problemsthe product carries

  • an insultingly high price tag.”

  • Then there was the lackluster consumer marketing campaign and abysmal developer support with

  • CNET UK reporting it astoo little, too late.

  • It’s lacking games support, it's uncool.”

  • When the Gizmondo finally released in the US in October of 2005 things weren't much

  • better, and actually they were arguably worse, with the device almost exclusively being sold

  • in small mall kiosks with very little advertising.

  • And the game situation did not improve much either, with only eight of the planned fourteen

  • games ever being released in the US and some of the promised GPS software never showing up here.

  • And then the lawsuits started pouring in.

  • Jordan Grand Prix sued them and won one and a half million dollars over not being paid

  • all of their promised sponsorship money.

  • Then advertising agency Ogilvy sued for more than four million dollars over unpaid marketing

  • work, followed by MTV suing over Gizmondo Europe

  • backing out of an agreement to sponsor several shows.

  • And then on top of the low sales, owing to debtors, and then making so many business

  • deals trading company shares in lieu of taking cash payments, Gizmondo declared bankruptcy

  • in January of 2006 having lost a reported 382.5 million dollars in only 45 months of existence.

  • And then the fascinating cherry on top is Stefan Eriksson, who'd resigned from the company

  • shortly before they went under.

  • He first really hit the news all over the place because he was involved in an epic crash

  • along California's Pacific Coast Highway where he was drunkenly driving a million dollar

  • Ferrari Enzo at what was initially thought to be around 162 miles an hour.

  • The wreck sheared the car in two, flung the engine out the back, and the car being only

  • one of around 400 manufactured someone spectacularly crashing such a rare car and surviving with

  • only a busted lip would have been news enough.

  • But this was the ex-Gizmondo executive and the circumstances around the crash were increasingly

  • strange, so the story gained plenty of outside media attention.

  • Chris, that Ferrari Enzo was nearly obliterated in the high-speed crash along the PCH.”

  • The occupants who were protected inside its Formula One style cockpit walked away.”

  • But one of those men, Stefan Eriksson, isn't escaping attention.”

  • And this attention resulted in some truly bizarre twists coming to light, including

  • the Ferrari belonging to Scotland's Capital Bank and they had no idea how it got to the

  • US, a videotape shot inside the Ferrari revealing It was actually going 199 miles per hour before

  • the crash, some evidence of weaponry on the scene by finding the magazine for an automatic

  • Glock, and Eriksson claiming to be a part of a so-calledanti terrorism task force,”

  • which turned out to be a local bus company serving senior citizens.

  • It all culminated in articles revealing Eriksson's unsavory past with the Swedish mafia, selling

  • cocaine and steroids in the 80s as well as a later

  • criminal enterprise dealing in kidnapping, counterfeiting, and fraud.

  • He'd spent more than six years in prison before helping start Tiger Telematics and while at

  • Gizmondo he and others allegedly made some sketchy cash by layering their account records

  • under various confusing names, with nearly 200 million dollars remaining unaccounted

  • for in 2006 according to the SEC.

  • There were several arrests and investigations that resulted but Eriksson spent three years

  • behind bars for embezzlement and illegal gun possession, before being deported to Sweden

  • where he spent another 18 months in prison for extortion and aggravated assault after

  • pouring gasoline on someone who owed him money.

  • But hey, at least the Enzo he wrecked had a happy ending!

  • The car was fully repaired, painted black, and certified by Ferrari, selling at auction

  • in 2016 for about 1.75 million dollars.

  • And yeah, that's honestly just scratching the surface of the whole story behind this

  • thing but let's go ahead and dive into the device itself and see what four hundred dollars

  • bought you in 2005!

  • Or more like $229 in this specific version of the Gizmondo which is known as the Smart

  • Adds release, as you see all over this box.

  • The concept here was that you would buy it at a hefty discount by agreeing to be served

  • advertisements on the screen every so often, or being provided exclusive discounts on nearby

  • products by referencing your location through GPS, as you can see in this demonstration

  • video.

  • And get two for one just by showing this barcode at your local 7-Eleven.

  • You current position is indicated by the flashing green dot or your GPS screen.”

  • But as far as I can tell Gizmondo never actually activated the Smart Adds service so my condolences

  • to customers that paid the full 400 dollars for one of these.

  • Also It's worth noting that even though the ads were to be sent using a cellular network,

  • the Gizmondo could not send or receive phone calls, only text messages.

  • To do that It has an integrated slot for a SIM card in the battery compartment and even

  • came with a prepaid card to get you started, from Vodafone in the case of this specific

  • UK release I have here.

  • As for the rest of the box contents you also get an AC adapter for charging the system,

  • along with an adapter appropriate for the region it was sold in so you can plug it into

  • the friggin wall.

  • As well as a USB cable for syncing to a PC using Microsoft ActiveSync.

  • A lithium ion battery pack, many of which have gone bad over the years and are bulging

  • outward by this point in time.

  • And a pair of Gizmondo earbuds that are not very comfortable at all, but that's not exactly

  • an uncommon thing for 2005.

  • I just never liked earbuds like this.

  • You also get this demonstration package on an SD card in the box labeled “I CAN DO

  • ANYTHING,” which seemed to be a kind of product catchphrase or motto of some kind

  • as seen in the one and only TV ad for the Gizmondo.

  • According to all principles it's too heavy for its wings.

  • It just can't fly.

  • But no one has told this to the bumblebee...

  • So it flies and flies.

  • He doesn't care much about principals.

  • Do you?”

  • You also got this sleeve filled with a few extra goodies like this card letting you know

  • you can claim some free music if you register with the company, as well as a CD containing

  • the full manual in digital form.

  • And which oddly enough looks like a burned CD-R to my eye, as opposed to a professionally

  • pressed compact disc.