GPS, movies, gaming and more: Gizmondo crams all into one device

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The gizmondo began, simply enough, as an idea for a hand-held global positioning satellite device. But then GPS specialist Tiger Telematics figured: Why settle for something one-dimensional?

So as the name suggests, the Gizmondo evolved-and led to a new world of portable devices. The "multi-entertainer" machine-set to make its debut in the U.K. this fall and in the U.S. in early 2005-provides gaming, an MP3 player, a movie player, multimedia messaging and a digital camera along with the GPS function.

That kitchen-sink philosophy is being echoed throughout the consumer-electronics world this season, as manufacturers race to offer a variety of combinations in hand-held electronics. Products set for release through early 2005 include personal media players combining MP3 players and movie players; hand-held gaming devices with messaging and media capabilities; computers and phones with TV-viewing screens and a variety of wireless phone/gaming combinations.

"By the end of this year, you can pick any combination of features and someone will have made it," said Michael Gartenberg, VP-research director at Jupiter Research. "With the possible exception of the shoe phone, just about everything else is coming to market."

Gizmondo began two years ago, when executives at Tiger Telematics decided to expand the company's GPS expertise into the consumer arena. Their initial idea was a hand-held gaming device with GPS called Gametrac, meant to be marketed to young people and their parents.

But as the group further explored the idea, the ability to add more features became more attractive. So add they did. And the name of the device became Gizmondo, which aptly describes the to-be-released gizmo with mondo features. An advertising approach has not been finalized for the U.S. launch, handled by WPP Group's Ogilvy Worldwide with media buying by Aegis Group's Carat.

The GPS function has even been expanded for serving TV-like advertisements. Smart Adds, as Gizmondo calls its proprietary system, will deliver permission-based ads; users can opt-in for incentives such as free games.

"Our target group is the MTV generation, and they were brought up viewing commercial spots as entertainment," said Patrik Wallgren, Gizmondo's head of global public relations. "We will make sure whatever we send to device holders is something they enjoy."

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