Last year, LeapFrog and VTech boosted the toy sector with their children’s tablets, but so far this year the talk has surrounded new devices using the Android platform. Samantha Loveday takes a closer look…
EACH YEAR there’s always a breakout category in the toy market, and in 2011 it was all about the technology. And, with the pre-school tablets dominating retail sales over recent months, it’s no surprise that other companies are now experimenting in the sector, too. However, the new ‘generation’ of tablets are based on the Android platform and have a slightly older target age range. InspirationWorks will be launching
Kurio in July in seven-inch (£149.99), eight-inch (£179.99) and 9.7-inch (£199.99) models, while Oregon Scientific will introduce Meep (£129.99) later in the year.
The children’s tablet market
presents a real growth opportunity.
Consumer electronics firm, Archos was first to market, with the Child Pad (£99) launching last month. So, how do the new tablets stack up and is there a big enough interest from consumers to support all three? “We realised there was a gap in the
market for an actual tablet which all the family could use safely and at a price that was right,” explains Tracey Devine, marketing director at InspirationWorks. “Kurio is just that – a complete entertainment solution that parents can use and also let the children have in the knowledge that they are completely safe.
Kurio (pictured top) and Meep both received good reactions at recent toy fairs...
“Kurio is the first truly versatile and content rich adult Android tablet for children, with advanced parental controls and real internet content filtering,” she adds.
Devine also highlights the Kurio’s capacity screen, rich content and gaming ability, partnerships with Penguin, Alligator Books and Bin Weevils, plus a time control function.
Oregon’s Meep also has parental control, built in wi-fi and a marketplace which allows children to purchase age appropriate apps and games. Accessories are also available. “We are confident that the Meep offers a real point of difference and directly responds to insights from both parents and kids, with real product innovation,” offers Julia Cake, Oregon’s
business development manager. “By marketing the Meep to ages four and above, we are confident that the product is a relevant, enjoyable and educational tool which will be trusted by parents and loved by kids.” Archos, meanwhile, has ploughed all of its experience into the Child Pad. The user interface boasts coloured icons, home screen folders with direct access to games, entertainment, learning and puzzles. But, despite being a big name in the adult consumer electronics sector, time will tell whether this success can transfer into the children’s arena given the greater pull of the InspirationWorks and Oregon brand names. The children’s tablet market presents a real growth opportunity, although Devine and Cake are understandably keen to get across the benefits of their own devices. “Kurio’s unique parental controls and internet filtering settings, coupled with its high specifications and capacitive screen set it apart,” says Devine. “Parents only want the best for their children and with Kurio at such a great price, offering such a high quality, we hope to lead the way.” Cake adds: “We are confident that the Meep is well placed to stand out as an innovative product that meets both parents and children’s needs, all at an affordable price.” However, Toyology TV’s Peter Jenkinson had this to throw into the mix: “There is an outside chance that Apple is developing its own kids tablet, and that would be a real blow for these new players’ hopes to get kids onside with an Android tablet.”