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Toys to grow thanks to tablets

Emili Alsina, Director, Ediciones Just

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More and more children play with smartphones and tablets, not just those made specifically for them, but also with their parents devices. Toys, especially cheap ones, have a new competitor: games and apps, some of which can even be downloaded for free.

According to the NPD group, children spend five days a week playing just under an hour each day with their parents' mobile devices, where they have an average of 12 apps. 6.5 of them games. Kids also use these tablets and smartphones to listen to music, take pictures and watch movies.

But just as we noted two weeks ago, this trend is also an opportunity for toy manufacturers and retailers. There are already companies that are exploiting the potential of the interaction between the physical and the virtual worlds offered by these devices, in a similar way to how Skylanders figures can be used with game consoles. Mattel and counts with the Apptivity line of toys, while Hasbro has recently introduced B-Daman, to cite two examples, which are not the only ones.

This new market presents opportunities that the toy industry has to seize. We have been listening for at least 20 years how older children are increasingly opting for video games, leaving aside traditional toys. The toy industry has been discussing how to revive interest in its products among these kids, as they used to work for children up to 12 years and and now they see how 8 and 9 year old boys and girls are not interested in toys anymore. The fact that consoles and tablets combine figures with virtual worlds can help maintain and even recover much of this market.

The key is not to quit, not to see all the changes as negative, and to use this momentum to both enhance the traditional toy sector and to get to know a line of products (electronics and video games) that the industry has neglected in spite of being also part of the playing universe.

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