Kids and Families Reach for New Mobile Interactive Media
Reyne Rice, toy trend expert, attended the First Annual
Children’s App Design Institute (“App Camp 2010”)
Conference in Monterey, California earlier this month. In this
report, she shares with members of the toy industry her observations of
how “App Fever” is taking hold in the toys, games,
entertainment and licensing markets.
With over 185,000 iPhone Apps and over 4000 iPad Apps available in
early May 2010, and predictions from DFC Intelligence that games for the
iPhone/iTouch/iPad platforms will be the principle driving force in the
mobile games market five years from now, the overall mobile gaming
market will continue to grow. DFC, a research firm for the video
game and entertainment industry, anticipates that revenues from mobile
games will grow from $46 million in 2008 to $2.8 billion in 2014.
However, the percentage owned by portable gaming devices like the Play
Station is expected to shrink.
Frequently, younger caregivers – who are digital natives
themselves – have no qualms about sharing their iPhones with their
preschool children and toddlers to keep them engaged for car rides,
grocery store trips or in waiting rooms. As children watch their
parents, siblings and caregivers use digital media tools in everyday
situations, it is only natural for them to want to role-play and emulate
those same activities.
As a result, iPhone apps designed for the skill sets of children ages
2 and up are being created. For example, a new
developer Duck Duck Moose, created
Old MacDonald, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy
Spider interactive storybook apps for the iPhone, which have
consistently been ranked as best-selling apps on the Apple iTunes store.
The books incorporate multiple interactions that children find
fascinating, with engaging and intuitive interfaces that encourage
exploration and discovery.
New research by the NPD Group confirms that kids who digitally
download content are likely to also purchase a related physical
product. Retailers are capitalizing on this trend by tracking the
best-selling kids and family apps on the iTunes App store and stocking
up on the physical products that bring favorite characters and
well-loved content to life with classic books, games, soft plush
characters or other categories of licensed products.
Book-sellers; specialty retailers; airport, hotel, university and
hospital gift shops are all examples of alternative retail outlets that
have added travel size and full-size physical board and dice games to
their shelves to complement best-selling apps for mobile games.
Electronic Arts creates apps to support over a dozen Hasbro Games
classics such as Scrabble, Clue, Game of Life, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle,
Monopoly Here N Now: World Edition, and Yahtzee Adventure games.
ThinkFun offers both physical and mobile Rush Hour and Rush Hour Deluxe
games, and is launching more options in Summer 2010. Mattel has produced
Uno in both formats, and Around the Table Games created Family Talk as
dual options. One of the newest storytelling
“everyone-wins-with-open-ended-play” dice games for 2010,
Rory’s StoryCubes, distributed in the USA by Ceaco/Gamewright, is
also available in a compact dice format in both physical and mobile
The goal of App Camp 2010 was to bring together hardware and software
developers, reviewers and publishers, and others passionate about
creating interactive media for kids. Apps were demonstrated, reviewed,
and discussed across all forms of interactive media platforms including
computers, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Android, Nintendo DS, PlayStation
PSP Go, and more. Newbies and industry legends joined forces to compare
notes on the Dust and the Magic in this emerging segment of interactive
playthings for kids.
“We have seen that the tsunami of multi-touch devices that were
released over the last two years have already gained rapid adoption
rates, and this is fueling a huge interest in interactive applications
for kids,” explained Warren Buckleitner, editor of the
Children’s Technology Review, and App Camp facilitator.
“This new wave of technology has also given rise to a new breed of
tech-preneurs, many of whom are young parents themselves, who are
creating kids products with their own tech-friendly young children in
With so many available screens and media platforms, consumer’s
loyalties will be won by the most enriching and relevant experiences.
It’s up to the brand and property stewards to understand how
consumers are spending their time at each new touch point and to
entertain them there, using the best of the medium to create the