LeapFrog To Launch New Interactive Reading Device, The Tag; Includes Online Emphasis, Downloads

Amid plunging sales and job cuts, LeapFrog hopes to replicate its initial LeapPad success with its summer release of the Tag Reading System, the NYT reports. With the $50 tag, children can turn a regular reading experience into an interactive one, complete with character voices and games testing comprehension. Touching the green and white plastic stylus to a word enables the toy to read it, or its definition aloud, and tapping an image plays a character’s voice. The Tag can be seen as a children’s audio book, but at a level that facilitates learning and comprehension.

Like the LeapPad, LeapFrog plans on marketing the Tag to schools but it also has a strategic internet approach that it hopes will boost sales. More after the jump

Each Tag will be sold with one book; buying additional titles requires logging onto the company’s website to download digital versions of those books onto the Tag’s memory. Parents also will be encouraged to create a profile page for their child at the site, enabling them to keep a record of their child’s reading activities, achievements and struggles.

The company was able to create the product in just 18 months because it already had much of the technology available. It borrows the micro-dot reading technology from its 2005 pentop computer called the Fly, and combines it with a small infrared camera located at the top of the Tag. The Fly, a $99 toy geared towards tweens, ultimately flopped since its intended audience is drawn to more advanced electronic gadgets like mobile phones and MP3 players. With the Tag, a product characterized by the ingenuity of the LeapPad and the sophistication of the Fly, LeapFrog hopes to introduce the toy that will help it recover from its two-year losses estimated at $200 million and the recently announced cut of 10 percent of its workforce.

Last Friday LeapFrog’s shares closed at $5.81, almost 90 percent below the October 2003 peak.


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