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China’s CT510 Game Console Launched, But Still Looks Like Vaporware

China’s CT510 Game Console Launched, But Still Looks Like Vaporware

| April 30, 2012

I have written quite a lot about the eedoo CT510, formerly known as the iSec. The idea of a Chinese game console has always interested me as a longtime console gamer who lives in China, but I’ve been extremely skeptical about eedoo’s machine for reasons ranging from the exorbitant price to the fact that its games seem terrible. But perhaps I’ve been being too harsh. The CT510 finally launched yesterday after a number of delays, so I set out this afternoon to see if I could figure out how the launch was going, and maybe even try my hand at playing a game or two on the newly-released console.

I failed miserably. Not only could I not find anywhere that sold the CT510, I couldn’t even find anyone who had heard of it.

My first stop was a large electronics mall on Beijing’s east side. This mall has a cluster of console gaming shops in its basement that are pretty well-stocked, and I figured there was a good chance one of them might have the CT510. No such luck. In the seven shops I checked, there was not a single CT510 to be found, nor had any of the shopkeepers I spoke to even heard of the device. My conversations with them all went something like this:

Me: “Do you have the CT510?”
Shopkeeper: “…the what?”
Me: “The CT510. It’s the domestic game console eedoo developed, have you heard of it?”
Shopkeeper: “No, I’ve never heard of that…”
Me: “Have any customers asked you about it?”
Shopkeeper: “No.”

One of the shopkeepers thought there was a chance I might find the device upstairs (after I explained to him what it was), on one of the other levels of the mall. I wandered the four floors, asking around, and found everything from iPhones to gaming PCs to surveillance camera systems, but no trace of the CT510. When I asked about it, all I got were blank stares.

Perhaps this is an isolated incident, I thought, so I headed to central Beijing. There’s a strip of shops near the old Drum and Bell Towers that’s well known for selling consoles; it’s where net users will often point you if you ask online where to buy consoles and console games in Beijing. A few of the shops there were closed for the holiday, but I checked all four that were open. Once again, none of them carried the CT510, and none of the people working there knew what it was. In the last shop, for example, I spoke with a wide-eyed shop owner who was sure I was just confused:

Me: “Do you have the CT510?”
Shopkeeper: “The what?”
Me: “The CT510.”
Shopkeeper: “Do you mean CD? We have some CDs.”
Me: “No, the CT510, it’s the domestic game console that just came out. It used to be called the iSec.”
Shopkeeper: “Oh…no. We don’t have that. I haven’t heard of that.”

I was beginning to wonder if I had somehow gotten the launch date wrong. Could it be that I was just early, and that the CT510 hadn’t actually come out yet? I double-checked eedoo’s site, but the launch date is right there on the front page: April 29.

What about e-tailers, I wondered. Would I have better luck finding the console online? Slightly. I did find the CT510 on Amazon — although for some reason you can’t order it until May 3 — but searches on 360Buy, Tmall, and Taobao all came up empty. The closest I came was a kind of heat lamp that apparently shares the “CT510″ moniker.

The fact that the device isn’t available on Taobao seems the most damning, given that in-demand electronics are generally available on that site weeks before they’re even released. Could interest in this thing be so low that no one on Taobao thinks it’s even worth selling?

Apparently, the answer is yes. There’s very little discussion of eedoo’s console online, but what I did find was overwhelmingly negative. In this poll on Sina Weibo, for example, less than seven percent of nearly 2,000 respondents said they would buy the console. And in this forum thread about the console (one of the first Baidu search results for “CT510″), the question “Would you buy it?” was met with responses that range from skepticism to derision and curse words. A sampling:

I still don’t support this thing.

This thing is dead.

This won’t last long, it will disappear on its own.

The price is disappointing…

This product is just too weak, no need to mention anything else, all I have to say is the goddamn 3799 RMB ($600) price tag.

Only an idiot would buy this.

To borrow a classical phrase, this thing has brought about its own destruction [with the high price].

At this price, its chances of success are about the same as the chances the world is about to end.

I hope it’s successful…

[I'll answer with] an English phrase: “Go to hell.”

I wouldn’t buy this even if it was only 799 RMB ($126). Do you think Chinese people are idiots?

Lenovo is so stupid. They do everything, but they don’t do anything well.

Lenovo is a stakeholder in eedoo, and it incubated eedoo before eedoo’s eventual launch as an independent company, but Lenovo has been backing away from any association with the CT510 for months, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Eedoo seems to have launched a product that no one wants. I suppose the upside of that is that it won’t be too much of a problem that the thing is also impossible to find, but with millions in R&D costs — and who knows how much spent developing titles in collaboration with third parties — eedoo certainly seems like it may be at the bottom of a very deep hole.

I still hope to get a chance to play the CT510 someday, but I’m not any more interested in paying $600 than any of those Chinese gamers quoted above. I have contacted eedoo to ask if I could get some hands-on time with the console, and also to ask them to respond to some of my questions about the system and its marketing strategy, but I haven’t heard anything back.

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