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Gizmondo gears up for US launch

Still in need of games, though

Gizmondo is expected to announce the exact timing of its eponymous handheld games console's US launch next month, most likely at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.

So far, all the company will say is that the device will launch in the US in the late Q1 2005 timeframe - around the time Sony is expected to begin shipping its PlayStation Portable in the territory.

Gizmondo's presence at CES comes courtesy of Microsoft, which will be allocating a small part of its booth to the fledgling console company. The software giant recently committed itself to porting over a handful of games to the console, which is conveniently based on Windows CE .NET.

Gizmondo - the device - was launched in the UK on 29 October. While the hardware is impressive, its software catalogue leaves a lot to be desired. The company's web site currently lists just four released game titles, with eight more on the 'coming soon' list. To that we can add three definites from Microsoft and probably two more from the same company.

The console's mobile messaging facilities and GPS technology do provide buyers something to use it for while they await further games releases, but let's be honest here, no matter how much the company spends on marketing - it's currently running occasional TV ads and is opening a shop in central London - knowledgeable gamers are going to want to see a solid list of games before shelling out. Doubly so with the very appealing PSP and Nintendo DS just around the corner. And the DS is already on sale in the US, of course.

Gizmondo - the company - may well have a business model that doesn't require it to sell sufficient units to get it alongside the Nintendos and Sonys of this world. It wouldn't even surprise us if it wasn't hoping Microsoft will snap it up and rebrand it as Xbox Portable... ®

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