Leap year - ToyNews

Leap year

After the success of the LeapPad last year, LeapFrog has high hopes for the performance of its upcoming LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS devices unveiled in June. We take a closer look.
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The biggest product news of the year so far for the toy industry? Well, the announcement of the LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS last month certainly has to be up there. After the news broke, the internet and social media channels were alight with excitement.

For LeapFrog, the viral buzz around the two devices is a massive confidence booster.

“We are confident that LeapPad2 can outperform the original LeapPad, but ultimately it’s about refreshing the original tablet,” Robert Dekker, the firm’s senior marketing director, explains to ToyNews. “The retail reaction has been very enthusiastic and supportive, which is great. We are not in a position to discuss sales targets yet, but we have high hopes for LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS and are confident our targets will be met.”

The LeapPad2 features higher resolution front and back cameras and video recorders, the new LF 2000 processor, double the storage (4GB) and improved battery life.

It also includes extensive free content: a music player with five LeapFrog Learning Songs, a new Cartoon Director creativity app, an Art Studio creativity app, the Pet Pad writing app and choice of an additional app.

Meanwhile, the LeapsterGS is the ‘next generation’ of the Leapster Explorer handheld. The GS has a new thinner, sleeker design, larger screen, built-in motion sensor plus camera and video recorder, the new LF 2000 processor and four times the internal memory (2GB). It also comes with a selection of free apps. By the end of the year, the LeapPad content library will feature 225 game cartridges, apps, music, videos, e-books and more, while the LeapsterGS will feature 200.

“The content library is a key feature of LeapFrog’s offering, and at the very heart of our brand,” Dekker continues. “Although we are very enthusiastic about LeapPad2 and LeapsterGS, ultimately it is the quality and the depth of content which sets us apart from anything else on the market. The software is what really counts and what we focus on.

“It is of vital importance to us that the majority of content works across all of our hardware devices. All four work on exactly the same software portfolio, with the exception of the e-books which only work on LeapPad and LeapPad2.”

In terms of price, LeapPad2 will retail for £89.99, while LeapsterGS will be £64.99. Downloadable apps will be priced from £3.50, and cartridges £19.99. “The price increase is relatively minimal when you consider the improvements we have made to the device,” Dekker says.

With both products launching in early August in the UK, Ireland, US and Canada, LeapFrog is planning an extensive marketing campaign throughout the second half of the year, combining all of the marketing elements to support their arrival. This will include heavy TV advertising to provide exposure for both devices. Dekker is also hoping to avoid the stock issues which the original LeapPad suffered from in the lead up to last Christmas.

“Obviously we have learnt many lessons from last year’s launch and we are engaging with retailers to prevent stock issues from occurring this time round. However, tackling this issue is always going to be difficult as you never really know how successful a new product will be."

And the overall aim for this year? “Ideally, we would like to see at least the same amount of success we had in 2011, both in terms of consumer enthusiasm as well as retailer support,” Dekker concludes.

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