01 Oct 2005
Gizmondo Proves Highly Profitable
The Gizmondo portable games console has always seemed like a long shot for its makers. The features are actually pretty impressive (e.g. built-in GPS for satellite navigation, and GPRS for mobile data), but everything else felt wrong. The name’s stupid (OK, so Nintendo got away with the sexist/camp ‘Game Boy’), it looks ugly, and the branding and marketing has been clueless. Competing in the mobile gaming market is incredibly tough (ask Sega, Atari or Nokia); Gizmondo needs everything to be damn near perfect to stand any realistic chance of prospering.
According to their financial report, Gizmondo owner Tiger lost $99m in 2004, and a staggering $210m in just the first half of 2005. But the console hasn’t been a long shot for Tiger/Gizmondo executives; in fact, it’s proved to be a dead cert. They’ve been paid millions in wages, given themselves tens of millions in shares, had hundreds of thousands spent on cars, and the company’s paid hundreds of thousands to a wife of one executive and to a partner of another. Millions went to a game development studio that happened to be co-owned by two of the executives. I almost pity the rich fools who funded it all.
The people I do feel sorry for are the engineers and programmers who’ve worked hard on the products while those higher up were busy finding new and interesting ways to pay themselves. Despite the losses, the company’s planning to apply to get listed on the NASDAQ, and I’m sure the executives’ll keep making bold pronouncements, but I can’t see how the console can succeed with such greedy, incompetent management.
Anyway, whatever happens, the executives will come out of it as multi-millionaires, with no real risk of shame or imprisonment. As far as they and their buddies are concerned, they’re the smartest guys in the room.