Telecommunications giant Qualcomm has partnered with Brazilian game and electronics company TecToy to introduce what they deem the "fourth console" platform at GDC 09 today. TecToy has quite a history in providing console gaming for the South American market, , being responsible for the publishing and distribution of Sega's consoles in Brazil. Called "Zeebo", this "console" is closer to a digital distribution set top box, and according to Qualcomm Mike Yuen it will be aimed at emerging global markets with a growing middle-class, for example China, India, Brazil and Mexico. To this end, Zeebo boss John Rizzo explains at the GDC that the Zeebo will be lower priced than typical console platforms, and will support a library of localized software with "culturally relevant content" where necessary. Brazil will be the first of these markets to receive the Zeebo, priced at $199 USD. Software will priced at around $7-13 USD.
The Zeebo lacks an optical drive for disc-based media, as all content it supports will be delivered via digital distribution. Like the Amazon Kindle, the Zeebo is designed to leverage a cellular network as opposed to broadband and Wi-Fi for digital distribution of content, in this case the wireless 3G networks so popularized by recent smartphones. The Zeebo site reasons that 3G networks will be up to ten times more prevalent than wired broadband in developing countries by 2012, citing increased efficiency and value in their implementation.
The Zeebo will include four games pre-loaded into internal storage: FIFA 09 and Need for Speed Carbon from EA, Gameloft's Brain Challenge, and Prey Evil by 3D Realms and Machineworks. id Software's Quake will be the first title made available for download over the "ZeeboNet Wireless Network." Access to this network is expected to free in South America thanks to an additional partnership with local provider Claro. These titles are actually ported from their mobile counterparts produced under Qualcomm's own BREW development and delivery platform. In fact, several game publishers with experience in BREW development already intend on porting their software to the Zeebo platform, including Capcom, Sega, Namco and Vivendi. Future games will include Crazy Taxi, Resident Evil 4, Sonic Adventure, Street Fighter Alpha, Tekken 2. Games are purchased online through the Zeebo's main menu using "Z-Credits", which users can acquire via debit or credit card transaction.
Zeebo Technical Specs
• 157 x 215.4 x 44 mm (L x W x D)
• 0.9 kg / 2 lbs.
• Qualcomm Chipset
Applications Processing (Audio/Graphics)
• ARM 11 / QDSP-5 running at 528Mhz
3D Graphics Processing
• Qualcomm Adreno 130 Graphics Core
• Mobile Display Processor (MDP) (Concurrent 3D Rendering & Screen Operations)
• Non-Volatile Memory:
1 GByte NAND Flash
128 MBytes DDR SDRAM + 32Mbyte stacked DDR
SDRAM in MSM7201A
Output Color System
• PAL-M and NTSC
• VGA (640 x 480) - 4:3 aspect ratio
• Quad Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900) MHz
• Tri Band UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850/1900/2100) MHz
Modem Processing (Integrated in MSM7201A)
• ARM 9 CPU / QDSP-4
• External Power Adaptor (Battery Not Required)
• 100 – 240 V (50-60Hz) (universal)
Ports and Slots
• Three USB 2.0 Standard A (for accessories)
• USB 2.0 OTG – Mini B
(Accessible to Service Centers and Developers only)
• RCA Connector (Video Composite TV Signal, x2 Stereo Audio)
• SD Card Slot / Interface
Power Key Functions
• Power On / Power Down / Power Off
• 4 Games + 1 Free Wirelessly Downloaded Game
• MIDI (72 voice polyphony 512 KB wavetable, 44kHz sampling rate)
• SMS, server initiated
User Interface (UI)
• Proprietary Zeebo User Interface (Updatable wirelessly)
• International Mobile Equipment Identity – IMEI
All Zeebo players need is a television with composite video inputs. Hey, at least the Zeebo prides itself on being lighter than the Xbox 360's power adapter. Future Zeebo updates may include additional peripherals like driving wheels, guitars and dance pads, as well as community and social networking features. Surprisingly, the Zeebo can connect to netbooks and laptops and share access to its 3G modem for internet browsing if the user feels the need.