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I'm sorry, Toys "R" Us. You're at least a year too late.
The toy retailer introduced its Tabeo tablet this morning, and the kid-friendly device does have its selling points. It comes preloaded with 50 apps, including educational titles, e-books, and some of the more popular games that can be found on iOS and Android gadgetry. It has dual cameras. It looks sturdy and stylish. Parents will probably appreciate the integrated parental controls. It's also priced to move at a mere $149.
Unfortunately, it's not a year ago. Nowadays, Amazon.com's (Nadaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire -- with double the storage and more impressive specs -- costs just $10 more. The Kindle Fire HD, with four times the storage capacity, is just $50 more.
Sure, it's great to see Toys "R" Us offer the 7,000 free apps -- and thousands more premium downloads -- that can be had at the Tabeo App Store. But that's still no match for what Amazon's Kindle Fire and other Android tablets can do.
Then we get to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad. It's still the undisputed top dog, even if it does cost significantly more than the Tabeo or any of the growing glut of cheap Android tablets out there.
Sure, the Tabeo will be featured prominently in the electronics departments of the 875 stateside Toys "R" Us stores. Hitting the market on Oct. 21 also means it will be in place by the time the holiday shopping season kicks off. Toys "R" Us is going to see plenty of rushed parents going through its stores, and more than a few may pick up the Tabeo without comparing its spec sheets with what Amazon.com is willing to subsidize or realizing that their kids really only want an iPad.
However, at the end of the day, this is merely a toy. LeapFrog has every right to be worried, and this move could explain why it slashed the price of kid-centric tablet to $79 last week. Apple, on the other hand, has nothing to worry about.
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