Feeds

Barbie pulls Carmen Sandiego

I'm a Barbie Girl in an interactive consumer software world

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Barbie is an American Icon - a particular delight with girls everywhere as well as a certain subspecies of male homosexual. The Register admits also to a certain affinity to the dolls - from time to time we take time out from our My Little Pony Abbatoir to dust down the office Barbie collection. Favourites include: Stepford Barbie - she does everything you want without you even asking; Artie –Transexual Barbie – you can’t even see the joins; Dolly John Deere Barbie – half tractor, half sheep, wholly genetically engineered.

Unfortunately, Barbie sales are tumbling in the US. Barbie’s owner, Mattel - the Microsoft of the toy industry - blames inventory slashing by Toys R Us and other retailers, rather than a switch in affections by prepubescent girls (and a certain subspecies of...) to other toys or leisure pursuits. Mattel can’t grow its market share very much bigger - without attracting the attentions of regulators in Europe or in the US. Competition concerns stop it from swallowing up second-placed rival Hasbro.

So it’s doing the second best thing and moving into an almost entirely new market, with the $3.8bn stock acquisition of The Learning Company. Mattel is already in consumer software in a small way - but with the Learning Company, it moves to the top of the tree. TLC titles include Carmen Sandiego, National Geographic, and successful games titles Riven and Myst. TLC is Numero Uno in consumer software by default, of course. No-one else really wants to be in this heavily loss-making market, and TLC has hoovered up the interactive units of dozens of publishing companies and software houses - that have played and lost the consumer software game. Each year thousands of interactive consumer software titles are released - and most of these soon end up in OEM bundles or retailer bargain bins.

Truth is, for all but a handful of titles, consumer CD-ROMs sales suck. The Learning Company and Microsoft own most of those handful of titles. TLC already has the retail distribution channels sewn up – dealing directly with big multiple retailers, and working through specialist distributors to handle overstock, education, book and OEM markets.

Mattel won’t really open up much in the way of new distribution outlets of existing software. But think of the cross-selling opportunities - Riven demos stuck on the side of Barbie doll boxes; the interactive software brand extensions - Reader Rabbit squeals under Hot Wheels; the toy merchandising possibilities - Check out the Carmen Sandiego detective kit. It will probably go horribly wrong.®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Ballmer quits Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.