The Zeebo was a games console designed for less well-developed markets, or those that were only properly emerging. Like the three main consoles of its generation (the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360), the Zeebo possessed online capabilities, except over 3G networks.
The concept of the Zeebo was first conceived of by Zeebo Inc. in late 2008 as a cheap and cheerful games console that could be released in developing nations. Since many consoles had absurdly high prices in some of these countries due to taxation laws, the Zeebo had a chance to break into the market as a cheaper option.
The console was initially released in limited quantities in Rio de Janeiro on June 1st 2009 for R$499. By the end of the year, the price had dropped to R$299 and distribution had increased to cover the rest of Brazil. A Mexican version was released in November 2009 for MXN$2,499, and an Indian version in 2010.
While they also intended on stretching out to China by the end of 2011, it's unclear as to whether or not this actually came to pass - On May 27, 2011, Zeebo announced that its operations and online service in Mexico and Brazil would end on September 30 of that year. Zeebo Inc. went on to announce plans to develop a "next generation Android-based platform for launch in 2012", before never being heard from again.
The Zeebo console was designed and developed by Zeebo Inc., with the participation and aid of twelve different companies, primarily led by Tec Toy and Qualcomm. These companies were responsible for the production of the Zeebo in their own respective nations. (For example, Tec Toy built and handled the Brazilian version of the system). Qualcomm were also responsible for the system's BREW chipset, similar to that of some mobile phones of the time.
The Zeebo used a mobile connection (3G or EDGE) to remain always connected to the internet, and downloaded games from an online store similar to that of XBox Live Arcade or PSN, using a "zCredits" system similar to Microsoft Points. This connection was free and had no subscription component. The online store was the only way to attain games, as there was no optical drive, so as to reduce both production costs and piracy - a serious issue for game developers in developing markets.
In March 2010, Zeebo Inc. announced a partnership with AT&T that the press release claimed "gives users access to AT&T's international roaming network, allowing users to carry out rapid trials of the Zeebo platform in new geographic areas as we establish longer-term agreements with local carriers for deployment of the system. It will also give us a chance to explore opportunities in the US market in the future." While this opened the door to a possible expansion into the US, this appears to have been canned shortly afterwards due to Tec Toy dropping the platform in favor of educational toys and software.
A total of 46 games were released for the Zeebo. A lot of early releases consisted of ports of BREW-based mobile games like Resident Evil 4, FIFA 09, and even Quake. Over time, more localized content started to filter out, like the Zeebo F.C., Zeebo Extreme and Zeebo Sports range of sports titles. In 2010, a series of classic Data East games like Joe & Mac and Super Burger Time were ported to the platform.
The Brazilian models of the Zeebo console contain three games pre-installed to the hard drive:
Meanwhile, the Mexican version of the console came with five different free games:
The Zeebo featured multiple types of controller:
The Z-Pad is the standard controller for the Zeebo, and is shaped and styled in a manner similar to that of the Nintendo Wii's Classic Controller. The Z-Pad comes in the box alongside the controller, though you will need additional controllers in order to play multiplayer.
The Boomerang controller is sold only by Tec Toy, with the Brazilian Zeebo. The controller contains an accelerometer. This allows games to be played with different movements and gestures, similar to the motion sensors of the Wiimote.
A typical keyboard, used for web browsing, e-mail and social networking.
- ARM11 / QDSP-5 running at 528 Mhz
- ATI Imageon (renamed to Adreno by Qualcomm after buying ATIs Imageon Designteam & Chipdesign)
- 1 GB eNAND Flash
- 128 MB NAND Flash in MCP
- 160 MB RAM, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in MCP + 32 MB stacked DDR SDRAM in MSM7201A
- VGA (640×480) – 4:3 aspect ratio
- 3G (scaling back to 2.5G or 2G where necessary)
- 3 USB ports 2.0 Standard A (for accessories)
- SD Card Slot / Interface
- Interface: USB HID
- Power: AC adapter 5V 3A
- Consumption: 15 W max.
- Graphics: 4 million triangles / second
- Audio: 8 channels simultaneous MP3, ADPCM, MIDI
- Resolution: 640×480
- Size: W × D × H – 157 × 215.4 × 44 mm
- Weight: 1.3 kg (3 lb)
- Sensitivity: <- 106 dBm (in UMTS)