It shouldn’t surprise anyone that tablet computers, along with smartphones and laptop computers, are marketed to anyone and everyone across the market. That’s why news that Toys R Us is launching the Tabeo, a tablet computer aimed directly at children, isn’t unexpected.
Toys R Us announced the Tabeo Monday, confirming a release date of October 21 and a price tag of $149.99 US.
The Tabeo will be loaded with “child-friendly” apps and will allow parents and/or guardians to customize Internet access levels for each family member using the device.
The seven-inch touchscreen Tabeo will have WiFi capability and 4GB flash memory. It will feature about 50 pre-loaded apps for kids, including games like Angry Birds and book apps like istorybooks. A Tabeo store will have access to more than 6,000 additional apps. It runs on Android’s 4.0 operating system.
It also features a “drop-safe” bumper, which makes it ideal for kids (and adults) with butter fingers.
For Toys R Us, the hope is that the Tabeo is going to give a major boost to its holiday season. Some 40 percent of the retailer’s annual sales come from holiday shopping alone, but online retailers and big box stores have cut into the bottom line. By releasing its own high tech product in-house, the hope is to lure consumers into the toy store.
Toys R Us already sells other electronics and tablets, including the iPad. In terms of competition, the Tabeo faces off against VTech’s InnoTab and the popular LeapPad from LeapFrog Enterprises. There’s also the Kurio Kids Tablet from TechnoSource and the Meep Kids Tablet courtesy of Oregon Scientific. Both of those tablet sell for around the same price as the Tabeo.
At first blush, it might be hard to imagine much of a market for these tablets. Many kids can use existing tablets like the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, for one thing, and there already are a number of kid-friendly apps out there.
The lower price could help move units, but it’s still not cheap enough to be an impulse buy for parents. Those looking for the “cool” product for their kids will likely just spring for an iPad (or the expected smaller version to come), while others may take a closer look at some of the other value tablets on the market like the Galaxy Nexus 7.