Zeebo: Gaming For The Next Billion

At a recent games developer conference, Brazil based Tectoy presented their new video gaming console called Zeebo for the next billion. Looking at the specs it's clear that it doesn't want to compete with other current gaming consoles, which have much more processing power. Instead, this gaming console is targeted at emerging markets where people can not afford other consoles and much less to buy high priced games. The interesting twist in this case is that Zeebo has a built in 2G/3G modem to download games so there is no need for establishing physical distribution channels of any kind. I guess that this will help to save a lot of cost.

I can imagine that at some point, the wireless connection might also be opened for other uses such as multiplayer gaming, e-mail, the web, etc. First to be sold in Brazil, Tectoy has brought Claro on board as a network partner and the Wiki article linked above mentions a lot of game companies who will supply games.

The chipset of the box will be supplied by Qualcom, who, according to this article, has invested $5.5 million into Tectoy and BREW will be used as a software platform (only mentioned once in the article, no great details on this, so this has to be investigated a bit further). BREW of course is already known from CDMA based mobile phones in the US so I there are already a lot of developers out there that could easily port their games to the console.

There we go, this is one of the first wireless but non mobile devices with built in 3G connectivity beyond todays mobile and notebook / 3G dongle centric devices for the mass market that I know of. And who knows, maybe a role model for a future wireless game distribution model for high-end game consoles.

2 thoughts on “Zeebo: Gaming For The Next Billion”

  1. To be fair the most popular device of this type must be the Kindle, which has been around for a while now but of course is invisible outside the USA. I’m still stunned that they could have been so short-sighted as to not build a GSM/3G version.

    They must have got a really good deal on CDMA EVDO access, but they cut their potential market to shreds. And the second version is the same.

    The tyranny of CDMA means even people in countries with CDMA networks (all 3 of them remaining…) can’t buy a Kindle and expect it to work because the operators have complete control over which devices are enabled to work on their network. Sort of like an EIR in white-listing mode. There are reasons, but some of them are technical and others are “we sell more phones”.

    Back on topic, I think the Kindle shows that this kind of device can be very successful. Operators need to move from the business model of charging for a connection in any form though (the connection can’t expire like prepaid either).

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for commenting. True, the Kindle is there as well, how could I forget. Must be the non-American approach 🙂

    But seriously, you are right, very similar concept, especially concerning no need for a physical distribution channel for the content.

    A difference: While the Kindle is for a high income country, the Zeebo addresses emerging markets.


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