Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Barbie: Less Imagination, More "Technology"

Sales of regular dolls (dolls that have arms and legs that move and don't require a power source) are down. Sales in electronics are up. What is a toy maker to do? Make a Barbie that isn't a Barbie at all.

NYTimes yesterday covered the new BarbieGirls. They basically look like a iPod shuffle or flash drive in the shape of a cartoon girl, a cartoon girl that doesn't even look like Barbie. She has a USB dock and syncs with your computer to be a MP3 player and a gateway to online games. Ahh, but the online games have a catch. As "Business model: 1) Use the offer of site access to sell the first doll. 2) Add new, restricted-access areas to the site that require kids to buy new dolls. 3) Keep the kids interested by letting use the site to win play money to get additional outfits."

The way I see it, future generations aren't going to be able to escape the computer, just as we adults today are learning. Everything is online: online banking, online bill paying, email, dictionaries, encyclopedias, news, recipes, maps, a plethora of information and alas, very often, work. If our children are going to be sitting at a computer from 9-5 for a big chunk of their adult life, why let them waste their childhood doing the same?

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