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G1 Google Phone Could End Up the Most Popular Console Ever 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the except-in-america dept.
Jon Jordan writes "Pocket Gamer has been getting its fingers inside the unique new Zeebo console — a sub $200 system designed for emerging markets — to discover it's based on a hacked version of the T-Mobile G1 Google phone. It effectively consists of the chipset from the HTC Dream/G1 Android phone, plus some extra I/O to deal with TV screens, controllers and the like. If this gaming, entertainment and educational console for the billion-strong middle classes in emerging economies such as Brazil and India catches on, HTC could become a serious global gaming force. Qualcomm's Mike Yuen said in an interview, 'We have this mass market chipset, and our next-generation chipset is getting faster. What we announced, [Qualcomm's] Snapdragon [chipset], is going to netbooks; it bumps it a few notches above that. The cell phone business, including us, is never going to build a processor that's going to match or surpass what the video game guys do. So, why chase that?'"
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G1 Google Phone Could End Up the Most Popular Console Ever

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  • Not in Brazil (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This Zeebo tyhing won't emerge in Brazil for the simple fact that a PSP2 is cheaper than this Zeebo, and it has tons of games and it can be hacked.

    • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:20PM (#28027925)

      This Zeebo tyhing won't emerge in Brazil for the simple fact that a PSP2 is cheaper than this

      Also, TFA says "it's expected in Brazil that Zeebo games will be available for around $12". Since PS2 games in Brazil typically cost R$10 (around US$5), Zeebo games at $12 are too expensive.

      • by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:35PM (#28028153) Homepage
        Yeah. More to the point, in my limited experience the middle classes in any country are as aspirational as in the developed world. They're not going to want a shitty console with an underpowered chipset when there are alternatives available.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nvivo (739176)
        Only illegal copies cost $5. You could say also that they cost nothing if I download them from pirate bay. And if you're from Brazil too, you know legal copies of PS2 games here cost a lot more than that. Zeebo is going after a different market, offering legal copies costing $12.

        But IMHO, I don't think the poor kids here are looking for the type of games this console is going to have (like Quake, Sonic, etc). I see this working for parents buying this for young kids, but in general, once kids grow up to
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Narishma (822073)
      PSP2? Wow I knew piracy is prevalent around those parts of the world but I wasn't aware they also got new hardware before the rest of us.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah man, those pirates are getting smarter every year, they even have a time machine now.

        Yet here is the rest of the world sitting living out their lives linearly.

        Shocking state of affairs if i do say so myself.

    • assuming you're talking about the PS2 (without the extra 'P'), it's an aging console that'll see less and less new releases from now on, and since it never had an official distribution channel here, there's very few (usually european) games in portuguese for it. when you find one, it's in the dialact spoken in portugal, wich is quite diferent (and funny to hear/read) than the one we speak. and it's present only in subtitles, not on the sound track.

      now, i've read about this zeebo on brasilian news sites som

      • by dangitman (862676)

        assuming you're talking about the PS2 (without the extra 'P'), it's an aging console that'll see less and less new releases from now on,

        Well, it's still a lot better than playing games on a fucking phone. And it's not like there's anything wrong with old games. There are plenty of 10-20 year old games that are better than many new releases.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:12PM (#28027783)
    Why do they assume that that Zeebo thing is just going to be so popular? I mean I wish them to be successful, but realistically when you're not an industry giant you can hardly hope to sell 100,000 units.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by SpeedyDX (1014595) <speedyphoenix@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:17PM (#28027895)

      To be fair, the title did say could. The Phantom could end up the most popular console ever. Duke Nukem Forever could end up the most popular game ever.

      Words are fun!

      • by SpeedyDX (1014595)

        Hate to reply to myself, but I just noticed TFA uses "might" instead of "could". I think those two words are interchangeable enough, though.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by jebrew (1101907)
          They "might" be interchangable, but I'm not sure you "could" use them that way without confusion...
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by 4D6963 (933028)

            They "might" be interchangable, but I'm not sure you "could" use them that way without confusion...

            I see what you did there >_>

        • Those words could be interchangeable, but you might not want to interchange them in all situations.
    • by jshackles (957031)
      I imagine it's expected to be popular based on price alone. It's easy to see why the majority of people living in "emerging economies such as Brazil and India" couldn't afford a $400 PS3 or even $250 Wii. But if you can make a game console $100 or even $150, it will probably sell like hot cakes, despite the lack of decent titles.
      • by afidel (530433)
        No, for emerging markets the target price point is probably more like $50-75 for the console with game titles in the $10-20 range. Basically a somewhat reduced price Gameboy.
      • Specially when an XBOX 360 or a PS3 cost over US$1,000 in Brazil.. although most of the games are pirated.
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        So sell previous generation consoles, they are available used for virtually nothing and the components used to build them must be so outdated as to be extremely cheap these days, but there are a significant number of games available already...
        Plus the games will also be extremely cheap, and if they're not then all these older consoles have long since been cracked making it easy to copy the games.

      • by 4D6963 (933028)
        That's conveniently forgetting about the PS2, isn't it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by yuri82 (236251)

      Well, if they want to sell a lot of copies in Brazil all they have to do is show someone in a soap opera playing it. Or in the Big Brother show. You think I'm kidding: we have a store that sells houseware stuff, we keep an eye on what they show on tv because the next day people will be in here looking for the same stuff.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Mister Whirly (964219) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:37PM (#28028197) Homepage
        The last Brazilian soap opera I saw had a 5 minute scene of a beautiful girl in the shower. If your theory is correct, the next day the brothels must have been full!
        • by yuri82 (236251)

          They usually are. At anytime there's probably about 2 or 3 soap operas on TV.

      • by rwiggers (1206310)

        Indeed.
        My wife went to buy a shawl last week. There were plenty of them, which is not usual here, but the color she wanted were almost everywhere sold-out. After finding it she discovered why, as the seller told her that that one was just like the one from the soap-opera the day before.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      I mean I wish them to be successful, but realistically when you're not an industry giant you can hardly hope to sell 100,000 units.

      Google is an industry giant. Not that industry, but still, their brand doubles as a verb.

      • by 4D6963 (933028)
        That would work if it was a Google console. A console that uses some Google thingie no one cares about is very different.
    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      According to TFA, they've received interest from EA, Capcom, THQ, Activision, PopCap, Gameloft and Digital Chocolate. The Wikipedia article adds Namco, Sega and id Software, as well as using the word "invest" in connection to all of the above (although I haven't checked the cites, so I don't know what that's supposed to mean).

      Add in the Google association and you've got a pretty strong portfolio of industry giants behind you.

      Not saying that it won't be a huge flop (I personally think it doesn't look all tha

  • Misleading article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:13PM (#28027811)

    The article mentions that it's powered by a Qualcomm chipset (as are many phones by HTC and others) and makes the leap that it's identical to the HTC Dream. This is an unsourced claim by TFA. It does not follow from the fact that Qualcomm is involved.

    I see somebody has already edited the Wikipedia article on "Zeebo" to say it is a T-Mobile G1.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Even if it was identical to the HTC Dream in hardware, that wouldn't mean HTC would make any money off it. Nobody's going out and buying G1s to get those chipsets, if it's true, they're just buying them from Qualcomm. It's a really bizarre statement.
    • The Gamasutra article [gamasutra.com] (the article with actual content, not wild speculation) is based on BREW [wikipedia.org] -- a Qualcomm proprietary runtime with no Linux involved.

  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:14PM (#28027827)

    I know it's not a particularly popular observation, but generally the success or failure of a console generally depends on the branded content that gets developed for it. What games does the system have? Does the system manufacturer have good relations with the major publishers? Does it have good tools? People buy consoles, particularly plug-into-the-wall systems, for the games. Without support of developers, it just turns into one of those Wall-Mart knockoffs.

    It seems sorta premature (and logically peculiar) to declare the G1 to be possibly "the most popular console evar!" It's a bit like seeing a slashdot story 15 years ago about how the Mac will possibly become the most popular console evar! because someone took apart a Pippin and discovered it had a abunch of Apple ICs in it.

    As far as the success or failure of a particular game platform is, the actual hardware, once exceeding a certain minimum threshold of performance, is basically redundant.

    • I know it's not a particularly popular observation, but generally the success or failure of a console generally depends on the branded content that gets developed for it.

      Not necessarily. The Wii's software is garbage, and it's by far the best-selling console of the current generation.

      • by moon3 (1530265)
        Wii sells Nintendo only franchises like Mario, Zelda etc. They are in business of selling brands, hardware is secondary in their strategy.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by cyber-vandal (148830)

        They're only garbage to smelly 20 somethings. The members of the human race that have had sex with other people however enjoy simpler games that don't take hours at a time and require usage of non-words like "pwned".

        • I'm a Nintendo loyalist and I have to still say that the Wii's software library sucks. Nintendo's first-party games are really good on it, Brawl, Super Mario Galaxy, etc. On the other hand most third party games are either A) Remakes of old PS2 games B) mini-game compilations C) Movie tie-in games that are crap D) Rip offs of Nintendo's games like the million Wii Fit clones and Wii Sports clones out there or E) Plain old crap games.

          Wii Sports is an over-hyped tech demo. Sure, its fun every now and then,
          • by ImaLamer (260199)

            The Virtual Console games, while many are quite fun, are over-priced ($5 for an NES game?),

            Yeah, try paying $50 for that same game, we all did once... And what makes $5 for Tetris or SMB3 overpriced? Because they have 10 times the substance of Wii Sports or the others people are going to mention here.

            But you seem to hate all consoles by reading the rest of your post.

            • Yeah, try paying $50 for that same game, we all did once... And what makes $5 for Tetris or SMB3 overpriced? Because they have 10 times the substance of Wii Sports or the others people are going to mention here.

              Exactly, we did once. We did when the NES was still a state-of-the-art system. Today, because Nintendo owns all the licenses, the game already broke records in sales, made a profit, etc. So that $5 is $5 in pure profit. That same game can be found in physical NES cart format for no more than $3. Theres little to no marketing involved, a near zero cost of distribution, no licensing costs, etc. So yes, $5 is too much.

              Now, it would be worth $5 if you could get ROMs that would play on your PC, iPhone, GP2

            • It's overpriced because we deserve to be entertained for free. Keep up!

        • by sanosuke76 (887630) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @04:35PM (#28030795) Homepage
          Obvious troll is obvious.

          My wife and I are both in our 30s, and certainly do not have a celibate marriage. We have a pair of PS3's, and we spent last night playing Street Fighter 4. Usually she's on Xenosaga or a Final Fantasy game and I'm on an FPS or TPS of some sort.

          Most of my friends are in their 30s. Only a few of them don't have consoles. With the exception of one girl who just turned 30 (and just got a PS3... maybe it's something about that magic 30), none of us use Wii's for anything other than entertaining small children. Don't misrepresent me as saying the Wii is garbage - I never said it doesn't do a specific job acceptably. But you can NOT make the ridiculous claim that anyone who's ever gotten laid prefers Wii-style games.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      but generally the success or failure of a console generally depends on the branded content that gets developed for it.

      But in this case, the success may depend upon what's not developed for it, like DRM and whether the platform is open and we can get good applications without them having to be vetted by a company that evaluates applications based upon whether or not they may at some future date challenge their business model or if they have curse words or any even slightly controversial content.

      • But in this case, the success may depend upon what's not developed for it, like DRM and whether the platform is open

        The article suggests it's not. The console uses games for Qualcomm BREW [wikipedia.org], and that's more closed than even the iPhone.

    • I kind of agree to this reasoning. Nintendo wii even now doesn't support a decent cricket game. If you want to sell your console in India, you should necessarily have cricket. That is the game 2 year olds start playing. People are crazy about that in this land.

      So a reasonably strong hardware, priced at lets say ~100$, aimed at such a crowd will fetch big money.

    • Grrrr. How *dare* you! Doubleminus badthink! Unmutual!

    • by moon3 (1530265)
      Also Android supports Java development only, good luck with that (from the developer perspective).
    • by vertinox (846076)

      I know it's not a particularly popular observation, but generally the success or failure of a console generally depends on the branded content that gets developed for it.

      I dunno. This is one of those rare situations where it is more appropriate to compare the G1 to a PC computer that happens to play games rather than a console designed to play them.

      Do PC sales live and die based of what games are made for it?

      No, it turns out that you can make games to play on them. Otherwise, its also a device you make phon

  • I just finished playing a very addictive and free game on the G1, in Brazil. My Wii is gathering dust. The G1 is a very amazing phone, it beats any Palm easily.

    • Were did you get a G1 around here ? didn't know the local cell phone operators were selling it...

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Were did you get a G1 around here ? didn't know the local cell phone operators were selling it...

        It's called the HTC Dream outside the US and UK. Singtel and Optus sell it in Asia although in Australia you can buy it outright for A$900 (standard price for HTC Smartphones in AU) from a store called organiser world.

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:20PM (#28027931)

    "emerging markets"

    Translation: "We have no idea who's going to buy this."

    • Actually it's usually a euphemism for poor countries, isn't it?

      • No, they don't know which markets would currently buy it, but they're hoping a market will emerge and take to it.
      • Not exactly - it really means exactly what it sounds like, although it is essentially idiomatic, not just a descriptive phrase.

        Emerging markets are countries/economies that are growing (or rap[idly growing) and becoming more consumer orientated, but have not yet reached the level of the more mature (and slowly growing) established markets such as Europe, America, Japan, etc. i.e. they may well be relatively poor compared to more developed countries, but they have reached a stage where they are undergoing ra

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      It's a euphemism for "developing countries". The validity of the notion of a linear progression towards Western industrialised society as the ideal of "development" of a nation notwithstanding, it means countries that have recently begun to have disposable income, and thus have money that can be extracted. The distinction between an "emerging market" and a normal market is that emerging market sgenerally can't afford most of the stuff that a company would sell to its normal market.

      Really, the most success
      • by Miseph (979059)

        Not to mention that they cashed in on the first emerging sell-phone markets back in the 90s and early 2000s... middle classers from industrialized western nations. I remember getting my first cell phone back in 2k as part of a Cingular family plan my dad opened up, it was a shiny "little" blue Nokia with a B&W screen smaller than a postage stamp barely large enough to show a 10-digit phone number. All of my friends with cell phones had the exact same phone, and most of their parents did too. It was almo

  • by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:21PM (#28027957)

    I rarely hear manufacturers say 'Yeah, we'll be lucky to push 100 units'. Wild speculation on the fact that based on price this will sell massively is, well, wild speculation. Getting a dominant platform is complex and requires a lot of work, as seen by the fact that many years later, we're still waiting on the Year Of The Linux Desktop.

    • It's insane.
      NONE of these 'developing country' systems has ever taken off. Closest thing I could think of was the Nintendo iQue system - they launched in China and as far as I can see never made it outside of China. Bit strange that whilst they had both the hardware and the games, they decided it wasn't worth the effort of pushing it round the rest of the world.
      iQue actually had some things going for it. It was only a generation behind, and came with the N64 library of games (as it was a chip-shrunk N64)
  • G1 Google Phone Could End Up the Most Popular Console Ever

    Just like the last 10 years have been the Year of Linux on the Desktop.

    • Well I remember about 10 years ago Infoworld had users vote the best operating system of choice and OS/2 won. Most of the IPs voting came from the bluethunder.ibm.com or whatever ISP IBM used for OS/2 at the time. It seems OS/2 users figured out that if they cleared their browser cookies they could vote again in that poll and did so over and over again.

  • by yumyum (168683) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:33PM (#28028125)
    I'm really tired of the overuse, especially in the news media, of the words "could" and "might". What's often lacking when they are used is any sense of how probable the outcome might (!) be. Perhaps I'm just overly sensitive to it now, but the NY Times seems to be particularly prone to this type of reporting, stating a supposition but failing to adequately describe the probability that the supposition is closer to true than false.
    • by mangu (126918)

      I'm really tired of the overuse, especially in the news media, of the words "could" and "might".

      Oh, yeah? And what about question marks [thedailyshow.com]?
       

    • by bit01 (644603)

      I'm really tired of the overuse, especially in the news media, of the words "could" and "might".

      Agreed but you're failing to recognize that this isn't news, it's marketing.

      Almost all "news" items about products are written by marketers [womma.org] these days. They will abuse the English language as much as they think they can legally get away with. This particular "news" item appears to be a puff piece to drum up some interest in the G1 google phone.

      The entire pocketgamer.co.uk web site appears to be marketing. Almos

  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:35PM (#28028163) Homepage Journal

    "G1 Google Phone Could End Up the Most Popular Console Ever"

    No, it couldn't. You're wrong, and stupidly wrong at that. Next story please!

  • HAHA NO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sexconker (1179573) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @01:39PM (#28028231)

    And the iPhone is going to be competitive gaming platform too!

    People.
    Look at the fucking sales for the Nintendo DS.
    Look at them. 103 million Nintendo DSs have been sold without contracts, for use as a game system.

    Then look at the software sales.
    The DS has well over 400 million software sales under it's belt. Keep in mind these games typically sell for $39.95.

    Fighting against Nintendo in handheld games is a fool's errand.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      Exactly. Sony tried and failed miserable.

      The PSP is a failure compared to the DS. Some little pissant that cant even touch what Sony spends on toilet paper daily is going to become even viable? That's funny.

    • I don't know the terms associated with this, but if it's close to as open a platform as the gphone it's based off of, i welcome it.

      nintendo keeps tight control over just what games play on their system. a mobile gaming platform, open to all developers like the pc, can finally get me the mobile version of custer's revenge that nintendo doesn't want me to have.

      i don't really expect this to be that open, but i can still hope for something similar to it.

      • They keep tight control over who can develop for their systems, sure, just like Sony or MS.

        The idea that they won't allow games with certain content is completely false, however.

        Look at Manhunt or the Godfather on the Wii.
        Look at BMX XXX on the GameCube, keep in mind the GC version was the uncensored version, while other consoles got the censored versions.

        It's entirely up to the developers. Becoming a licensed developer (and getting a dev kit) is an issue.

        But if you're into homebrew, the DS and Wii are WID

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by mgblst (80109)

      OK genius, there have been 45 million iPhones/ ipod Touches sold in the less than 2 years. If that is not a tour-de-fucking-force, then what the fuck is?

      • How many have been sold primarily as game devices?

        How many games in the app store are selling 10 million copies at $39.95?

    • by lanner (107308)

      Nintedo brand cell phones?

  • > G1 Google Phone Could End Up the Most Popular Console Ever

    Second only to the original Joystick game.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @02:01PM (#28028523) Homepage Journal

    Where are the games? They're going to have to cost a lot less than $12 for what you'll be able to play on that device. It almost would have made more sense just to go back to selling the original Playstation or something.

  • IIRC in Asia they had TV Game Consoles with Keyboards based on the Nintendo Famicom (NES Nintendo Entertainment System in the USA as it was called without the keyboard) and due to lack of IP laws electronic companies build their own Famicom clones for like $50USD that included 101 Famicom games inside of it. It became a best selling game console because it was cheap and had a lot of educational games on it.

    It lasted until the Sony Playstation beat it, but due to IP laws not being enforced everyone and their

  • by rtechie (244489) on Wednesday May 20, 2009 @02:19PM (#28028815)

    The photo at the top of the article makes it clear that the PROTOTYPE for the Zeebo is a TMobile G1 attached to a miniPCI video in/video out card and apparently another miniPCI 802.11g wireless card. This is definitely not going into production.

    Will the Zeebo take off? Definitely not.

    The developers seem to forget that there IS a very popular low-cost console sold in emerging markets, the PS2. The PS2 has VASTLY more capabilities than the Zeebo will have, has thousands of games, and it's cheaper. New games are being released for the PS2, at a rate that will almost certainly beat Zeebo. Did I mention the games are vastly superior on the PS2?

    • by rwiggers (1206310)

      The developers seem to forget that there IS a very popular low-cost console sold in emerging markets, the PS2. The PS2 has VASTLY more capabilities than the Zeebo will have, has thousands of games, and it's cheaper. New games are being released for the PS2, at a rate that will almost certainly beat Zeebo. Did I mention the games are vastly superior on the PS2?

      Even if it manages to come out cheaper that PS2, there's a wholle lot of cheap unbranded chinese consoles it will have to fight, since the brand is also unknown in the console market

  • This is going to fail, hard.

    The Nintendo cult is string here. And most popular games elsewhere are also popular here. People are simply not gonna buy a console that doesn't let them play Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Halo, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Spore or Grand Thief auto.

    The only way this console can be popular is if it play games from already popular consoles, preferentially pirated.

    Actually if this thing played pirated DS games it WILL sell like hot burritos*. But that's not gonna happen.

    Did I mention that t

  • ...go buy yourself a lisp machine and tell me that it is going to take off.

  • I think there is a market for a *really cheap* console, but really cheap is sub-$100. Probably sub-$75.

    $200? For this? Didn't the Gamecube, which is VASTLY more powerful, sell for $99? Yes. It did. NO ONE is going to pay $200 for this piece of shit.

    Which raises the question, why don't we have cheap Gamecube-level consoles? Or even Playstation/N64-level consoles? It would seem like you could build something like that for $50 or so. That would probably sell pretty well, if the games maxed out at $15.

    • by Kumiorava (95318)

      I think Sony is going for that with the PS2 development. One more price cut and one more hardware shrink and they are there with huge library of games.

    • by dangitman (862676)

      Or even Playstation/N64-level consoles? It would seem like you could build something like that for $50 or so.

      Sony still sells the PS1, under the "PSOne" moniker. No need to reinvent the wheel.

  • How much would it cost Nintendo to re-release the NES? They could even throw all their Library on one cartridge which would sell like hotcakes in the developing world. I wouldn't hold my breath about HTC becoming a big player in this market.
  • 'We have this mass market chipset, and our next-generation chipset is getting faster. What we announced, [Qualcomm's] Snapdragon [chipset], is going to netbooks; it bumps it a few notches above that. The cell phone business, including us, is never going to build a processor that's going to match or surpass what the video game guys do. So, why chase that?'

    Unfortunately, the processing power of any gaming system means absolutely nothing if the games suck.
    Forget fancy graphics and get back to gameplay. The more "ooh isn't that pretty" in the game, the less attention I'm paying to the fun parts.

  • It has Android on it. That was about the only thing that made the G1 phone interesting. The HTC hardware is solid, but nothing groundbreaking. The BREW store has always sucked, because of Qualcomm's unreasonable barriers to entry for developers. They stuck with their gated community of content and buy-before-you-try for years and just figured it was the natural order for most of their users not to care about mobile phone apps.

    Arguably, the Java-based Android OS is bad for app performance compared to B

  • Where did G1 Mobile come from? They are using the BREW platform, a competitor to Android.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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