Qualcomm/Zeebo Unveil "Fourth Console"

By Mike on 10:31 am

Filed Under: ,

Tech giant Qualcomm and startup Zeebo unveiled what they're dubbing as the "fourth console" at GDC 09 yesterday. The companies are hoping to tap into the so called developing market by making an affordable console while at the same time curtailing software piracy. The system, simply named Zeebo, is set to launch in Brazil next week for the retail price of $200 USD. It will be released in Eastern Europe, Mexico, and India in 2010 and will be made available in China in 2011. The system is about the size of a Wii. It is equipped with a 528MHz ARM 11 processor, the same used in many mobile phones, and a Qualcomm Adreno 130 IGP. The system includes 1GB internal NAND flash memory (enough for 50 games), 128MB of DDR SDRAM, a gamepad, three USB 2.0 ports, and an SD slot. Max screen resolution is 640x480. Graphics are said to be somewhere in between the PS1 and PS2, or in other words the same quality as PSP and Nintendo DS games.

The Zeebo is the first console to completely do away with discs, or any other type of removable media for that matter. It is 3G equipped allowing for wireless downloads of games. Content will only be offered through the system's proprietary ZeeboNet servers. 15 games will be made available on launch with 30 more being offered within 90 days after. Each game will retail for $12. This is being done to lure gamers away from the lucrative black market, which sells pirated games for contemporary consoles for just $10 a piece. Downloads are all pre-paid just as they are on PSN, Wii, and XBL. Games will only work with the users unique console ID and their account. Expect this DRM scheme to be cracked pretty quickly. The system will launch with four embedded games: FIFA 09, Need for Speed Carbon, Brain Challenge, and Prey Evil. Major game publishers Namco, THQ, Capcom, EA, Activision, and ID Software have latched onto the console.

Older consoles have traditionally preformed quite well in developing markets. The Sega Mastersystem for example sold well in Brazil right up until the late 90s. In these countries, contemporary consoles from the big three are often too costly, even for middle class individuals with comparable incomes to North Americans. A Wii for example costs the equivalent of $1000 USD in Argentina. The system is a good idea but I can't imagine it selling too well. The pirates will just lower their prices and the lure of being able to play the games "the rich" are playing is too much. Systems similar in concept have failed in the past. I also dislike the idea of doing away with removable media completely. I know that's the way the winds are blowing but I just feel uncomfortable with someone having that amount of control over my investments.

Source: The Register

0 comments for this post