Finally! We're getting a tablet that no one in their right minds can consider an iPad killer.
LeapFrog Enterprises (NYSE: LF ) introduced the LeapPad Explorer tablet yesterday. Unlike the toymaker's original edutainment system with the same name, the new LeapPad is an economical touchscreen tablet that will hit the market come mid-August.
The rugged devices come with a camera, microphone, and two gigabytes of data storage. There will be dozens of downloadable apps, as well as the company's flagship plug-in cartridges. Beyond the edutainment games, interactive books, and crafty diversions, there will also be proprietary videos available. LeapFrog is also working with Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA ) (Nasdaq: DISCK ) for some Discovery Kids clips.
The tablet isn't perfect, but it will do for its target audience of kids between the ages of 4 and 9. It will also be kind on the pocketbook, setting parents back just $100.
In short, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) won't be losing any sleep over the summer release. Parents will be able to give their kids a dedicated tablet and keep the iPad for themselves.
It may not pan out that way. Kids will probably enjoy taking snapshots and recordings, but there will come a point when Apple's ecosystem of countless free apps and web surfing will be sorely missed. After all, you didn't expect Wi-Fi connectivity or access to third-party developers in a $100 gadget, did you?
LeapFrog's been burned by dumbing down adult gadgetry in the past. The Firefly mobile phone and Fly "pentop" computer didn't exactly catch on as the company would have liked.
It seems to have a better grasp on what the market wants these days. Net sales bounced back nicely last year. LeapFrog is eyeing a top-line dip this year, but its outlook calls for a profitable showing.
It's still too early to tell if the LeapPad will be a breakout hit, but launching on August 15 will give it plenty of time to build up demand for the telltale holiday shopping season.
The kiddies finally get a tablet, but it's not something that Hasbro (NYSE: HAS ) and Mattel (NYSE: MAT ) are likely to take lying down if the new LeapPad gains any kind of traction.
Will a $100 tablet for kids fly? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.