Posted on June 5, 2007, Ron Whitaker Whatever Happened to the Phantom Console?
Remember the Phantom Console? If you don’t, here’s a little background for you. In 2002, a little startup named Infinium Labs announced their intention to revolutionize the gaming industry with a brand new console called the Phantom. Supposedly, this new console would be capable of playing current and future PC games, and would sell these games via digital delivery instead of the conventional disc or cartridge games.
First seen at E3 2004 as a prototype, the console was met with understandable skepticism. When the announced November 2004 launch date was missed, the skepticism was ratcheted up a notch, despite a barrage of faxes from the company claiming the system would be ready to launch in January of 2005.
What’s happened since then? Well, the Phantom lives on, after a fashion.
Infinium Labs, now known as Phantom Entertainment, is now online and offering up a ‘lapboard’ complete with a keyboard, mouse, and hard surface. Well, offering up is a bit much – the link to purchase the board is broken, and no store can be found on Phantom’s website. This ‘lapboard’ was slated for a release at the end of 2006. Of course, it’s still nowhere to be seen.
So, you may wonder how a company with no product can remain in business. Well, it’s not easy. Phantom has moved their corporate headquarters several times, from Florida to Washington State to New York, and they’ve now announced plans to relocate back to Florida.
The one common theme for all these locations is the debt the company piles up. While based in Seattle, Phantom leased a offices from Merrill Lynch. Phantom came up $127,312 short on that lease, and ended up settling the debt for what appears to be $100,000 worth of their own stock. This type of payment is a recurring theme in the history of the company. Ars technica says it best, so I’ll quote them.
“When we looked into SEC documents like the company’s annual report, we found a company that changes names and locations with amazing frequency; a company whose chairman has been indicted by the SEC for participating in a pump-and-dump “fax blast” scheme; a company that routinely issues more stock when it runs into trouble.”
The lapboard is still slated for a September 2007 launch, if the company can hang on that long. Apparently, recent audits have, “expressed substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”
I don’t think that sentiment is exclusive to the auditors.