iKids Winter 2014

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ikids_Winter 2014 10 /mobile his past holiday season, more kids than ever found tablets under their Christmas trees. And it's no surpise. A November 2013 survey by PBS KIDS found that 36% of US parents planned to purchase a tablet or smartphone for their kids over the holidays— a figure that's in tune with modern trends. Consider the fact that ownership of tablets has jumped from 8% to 40%, among families with kids ages eight and under, since 2011. Amid the onslaught of iPads and Android devices at retail, tablets designed specifically for children such as VTech's Innotab 3S and Fuhu's nabi Jr., are holding their own with price-points slightly lower than adult-targeted devices (US$109.99 and US$99, respectively). Touting special features like durable casings, educational apps and parental controls, as well as top-rated toon content, they are vying for a solid piece of the tablet market. And, evidently, they're doing a good job at it. Scott Steinberg, CEO and analyst at con- sulting firm TechSavvy Global, and author of The Modern Parent's Guide high-tech parent- ing book series, sees a sustainable future for kid-targeted tablets going forward. "[These tablets] serve a specific niche demo of tod- dlers to young school-aged children, especially those who are just starting to feel their way around the high-tech and online space," he says. "However, they have a limited life span, not in terms of durability, but at the point that they begin to overlap with the appeal of actual full-fledged tablet computers in general." It's no secret that kid-targeted tablets are thriving through the appeal of their brand partnerships and their alignment with major broadcasters. "Prices are falling, performance is growing and features are increasingly be- coming commoditized," says Steinberg. "If you are one of two dozen tablet manufacturers, you want to stand out, not fit in, and you can't do that through hardware features or through pricing. So, the way to do that is through content." And entertainment companies B y E l i z a b e t h G r a n t Keeping in toon Cool cartoons and alluring parental controls keep kid-targeted tablets relevant and in demand themselves are eager to buy in and provide young users with another means of interact- ing with their characters. California-based Fuhuh's nabi tablets are stocked with pre-loaded Nickelodeon apps, games and videos featuring characters from Dora the Explorer , Team Umizoomi and Bubble Guppies . The nabi 2 Nickelodeon Special edition (SRP US$179.99) offers apps, games, eBooks and full-length episodes from animated and live-action series including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants and iCarly . For its part, VTech's Innotab 3S now offers more than 650 titles via its Learning Lodge app store, including downloads featuring Team Umizoomi , Dora the Explorer , Thomas & Friends , Sesame Street , Monsters University , Doc McStuffins , Sophia the First and Penguins of Madagascar . The Boing tablet, which launched in Spain this past October, is a collaboration between Turner Broadcasting EMEA and Spanish toy company Famosa. Besides being "drop proof" and offering parental controls, the tablet T

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