The top-five things on our radar this month

More tablets make their way in while Barbie moves out of China. We're keeping our eyes on what's happening in the fast-paced kids' industry.
March 30, 2011

1. Tablets: Take two

Released in March, Apple’s second incarnation of the game-changing iPad is lighter, 33% thinner, faster and supports multiple cameras. And with Samsung launching its latest Android tablet this month, all signs point to even greater options and usability for kids.

2. Bye-Bye Barbie

Barbie got her elaborate 38,000-square-foot dream house in 2009. But the visually stunning, cutting-edge retail outlet in Shanghai was shuttered last month. Owner Mattel joins a growing list of US retailers—including Best Buy—that have pulled out of China recently, indicating that engaging the Chinese middle-class consumer presents a bigger hurdle than the Great Wall.

3. Price check

It’s all fun and games until someone gets the bill. In response to kids racking up real costs with virtual buys, the American FTC is reviewing Apple’s in-app purchasing system and pondering new subscription rules. For parents who haven’t made use of existing parental controls, little fingers can buy a lot of virtual goodies with Apple’s 15-minute window of password-enabled
purchase time.

4. Box-office breakthrough?

Who would have thought that two brand-new non-Pixar or DreamWorks properties would be ruling the 2011 kids box office? Paramount’s Rango and Gnomeo & Juliet, produced by Elton John’s Rocket Pictures, are doing just that to the tune of a combined US$160 million and counting.

5. Broadband battles

It looks like online movie-rental service Netflix is going to have some trouble holding on to its top spot in the US digital market. Innovative video distribution collaborations like last month’s Warner Bros./Facebook hookup are bound to corner some marketshare—and inspire more copycats.

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