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Toys “R” Us Entering the Tablet Game With a Tablet for Kids

In an unintentional effort to match those four-button mobile phones for kids, Toys “R” Us will be releasing their own tablet aimed at the same youthful market. Dubbed the Tabeo, it will cost $149.99, and will be exclusively available from Toys “R” Us starting October 21. The Tabeo will only be available at the toy store chain in an attempt to avoid “showrooming,” which is when customers try out a product at a retail store in person, but then actually purchase the product from another vendor, usually online, at a cheaper price. However, will a child-focused tablet priced at $149.99 be a good venture, whether or not customers can only obtain it from Toys “R” Us proper?

Last week, Amazon dropped the price of the Kindle Fire to $159, only ten dollars more than the child-focused, and thus limited, Tabeo. The Toys “R” Us tablet also isn’t the first kid tablet on the market — the Kurio tablet, for instance, not only looks similar to the Tabeo and has a similar target audience, but is even sold on Toys “R” Us’ own website, and just dropped its $199.99 price tag to match the $149.99 Tabeo, even though the Tabeo won’t release for another month. Needham & Co. toy analyst Sean McGowan also noted the issue with the Tabeo being a private-label product, saying “The downside to private-label products is if they flop, and have to be discounted, the retailer can’t beat up the manufacturers. That’s not an insignificant part of the toy business.”

The Wall Street Journal notes Toys “R” Us’ recent woes, the chain experiencing a 2% drop in U.S. sales last year, attributed to the “death of ‘must have’ toys,” and the younger market’s shift toward desiring digital products. Case in point, when was the last time you heard about the new Tickle Me Elmo, rather than logged onto Xbox Live and dealt with a deluge of obnoxious youngsters who all seem to be romantically involved with your mom?

The Tabeo might have a leg up on some of the tablet competition, though. Running Android, the unit comes stocked with 50 games, including the ever-present Angry Birds, and Toys “R” Us also has its own app store stocked with over 6,000 free titles. The Tabeo measures in at 7 inches, sports a front-facing camera and an HDMI output, has a capacitive multi-touch screen, a 1.0 Ghz processor and 4 GB of storage space (expandable up to 32 GB with a micro SDHC card), has Wi-Fi with Flash support, and is surrounded by a bumper that Toys “R” Us is calling “drop safe.” Kids drop stuff, you know. The Tabeo will also feature Parental Controls, because if it didn’t, what would be the point of a kid-focused tablet?

The unit is available for pre-order from Toys “R” Us right now, but it remains to be seen if it can compete with a similarly priced Kindle Fire, or older tablets that have dropped in price. However, there’s something to be said for giving your child a tablet and not having to worry much about them screwing up your $700 iPad.

(via The Wall Street Journal)

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