Gizmondo (not to be confused with the popular Gizmodo blog) is a project that could become a global hit and a breakthrough in the technology industry. Before the premiere, it was surrounded by a huge media hype, and millions of people waited for it impatiently. A device worthy of the first iPhone, created two years before the iPhone itself. For many living  in 2005, Gizmondo sounded like a revelation.

The revelations have this to themselves that there must be a higher power behind them that manifests itself in them. For Apple followers it was  Steve Jobs. For those waiting for Gizmondo – the owner of the GEO license plate, which is the Swedish pronunciation of the Cuban word  llello cocaine. The man known to the police as Tjock-Steffe – Fat Stefan. A mafia boss, who came up with the idea of bouncing back after serving half a ten-year sentence in prison in 1999.


A noble plan…

On August 17, 2002 the bodies of two ten-year-old girls were found in the  Cambridgeshire town of Soham. The police confirmed that two weeks earlier a janitor from their school had lured them to his home and murdered them.

Parents in Britain panicked.

At that time, a certain Carl Freer was running a company called Tiger Telematics, which was mainly involved in production of localization devices. He saw an opportunity to create a product that could be a remedy for a prevailing mood in public opinion. He decided to create GPS tracker for the youngest.

Of course kids are kids – they won’t be willing to wear a GPS tag of their own will. The opportunity came with a new  idea. A GPS  tracker should be built into a modern console. This is how  Gametraq was born, which was later renamed Gizmondo.


… and the rise of a legend

In 2001, Stefan “Tjock-Steffe” Eriksson joined Carl Freer. Together, they opened the sub-division of the company in Great Britain. From then on, Gizmondo’s announcements became revolutionary, and each new message pumped this revolution even more.

The device was to be not only the competitor to Sony, Nintendo or Nokia, which was just entering the market. It was supposed to be a console, a  phone and a GPS. It was supposed to allow the use of  augmented reality or tracking the player’s movements (video). It was supposed to guarantee the access to the Internet, texting, music and video playback.  It was supposed to be a smartphone at a time when no one  even dreamed of smartphones.

It is no wonder then that  smiling investors were donating millions to Tiger Telematics. Rick Dickenson – an industry legend –  was responsible for the design of the device. Gizmondo was meant to serve everyone. Literally everyone. Attempts were made to sell it to the banks as a device for managing funds remotely; To casinos  – as online gambling equipment; to customers, on the other hand, as a technology that will take them 10 years into the future.


The loudest premiere of those years

London. Regent Street. March 19, 2005, Gizmondo launch day. At the official premiere, in a specially open store, there were, among others Busta Rhymes, Jodie Kidd, Pharrell Williams and  Jamie Rockway. Pictures from the LeMans 24 race, in which  Gizmondo sponsored Ferrari, and  Jenson Button – British F1 driver advertised Gizmondo on posters, have been  flashed around the world .

Tom Green comes out on stage. The comedian praises the equipment, telling about its exceptional endurance, he decides to demonstrate it. So he throws the console on the ground, and  Gizmondo…  breaks into hundreds of pieces. Danni Minogue cleans them up while Tom just stares at them with a silly face.

Who then sensed that something was wrong hit the jackpot.

On the day of release, the shelves intended for Gizmondo were practically empty. Less than 1,000 units were sold. One very average game has been released on the console. The media became suspicious.


The company tries to keep up appearances

The second batch of  Gizmondo soon appeared in chain stores. It also reached Sweden in a truly   gargantuan number, which made it possible to sell  about 100 units there. Also in America it was available at a few small stands, after which it disappeared from circulation forever.

The second batch was sold in two versions: a more expensive one for £ 229 and the cheaper one for £ 129. The latter owed its price to the Smart Ads system. It was supposed to launch personalized ads  at random times based on user data.

As you can guess, the Smart Ads system was never launched and both versions worked exactly the same.

The plan was to create over a hundred games in the first months of Gizmondo’s life. Ultimately, fourteen of them were created. Additionally, customers complained about problems with sending text messages and the internet connection. The movies stuttered and the GPS connection was non-existent. The revelation turned out to be a nightmare.

So journalists started digging. And with each ground-breaking, the ground was collapsing under Tiger Telematics more and more.


What was under the ground?

In the summer of  2005,  it was announced that  Gizmondo had commissioned  Northern Lights company to develop games for £ 3.5 million. Of course none of the games hit the shelves. The reason was simple – the company belonged to the creators of the console – Carl Freer and  Stefan Eriksson.

In October 2005, the financial report of Tiger Telematics was published. It announced $ 100 million loss. Gizmondo has sold less than 25,000 copies. As planned – it has therefore become the worst selling console in history.

Disappointed by their defeat  Freer and Eriksson soon boarded their gleaming cocaine-filled Ferrari cars and left the company sinking in debt. In February 2006,  the company filed for bankruptcy, leaving a slight distaste among game developers, investors and consumers. The distaste was valued at £160 million.


It would be the end if it wasn’t for the fact that …

A few weeks later, Eriksson goes to court. He claims that he was not driving a stolen Ferrari at a speed of  320km/h that was found on the highway in pieces. Allegations of embezzlement, battery, possession of illegal weapons and heavy drugs are denied. He denies tax fraud, money laundering, and being an active member of the Swedish mafia in the city of Uppsala in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the court does not believe him.

Carl Freer was never convicted. He claims he had no idea of Eriksson’s evil intentions. However, he remained faithful to his idea. He planned to release the  Gizmondo console again in 2008. Unfortunately, the plans were thwarted by the fact that in 2009 his next financial partner  – Mikael Ljungman – was arrested and charged with economic fraud.

Perhaps Carl will make his dream come true one day.


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