Toy ‘R’ Us Launches Tablet to Battle iPad

These days, it seems like everyone is joining the tablet craze. Google’s got one, Amazon’s got one, even Microsoft made their own hardware device to try to ride the coattails of the iPad’s fame. Today, Toys “R” Us announced that it will be adding its own child-friendly device to the tablet market this fall with the release of the Tabeo.

Toys “R” Us’ new seven-inch “kids” tablet goes on sale Oct. 21 (although the estimated shipping date on the order page is Oct. 1) and only costs $149. You can buy it at any Toys “R” Us retail store, or preorder it now from the company’s website.

While tablets are becoming more trendy with kids for their multiple uses, like reading digital children’s books, using them as drawing and coloring pads, watching movies and TV shows, and playing games, physical toys are seeing a slight decline in popularity. According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. toy sales fell two percent last year to $21.2 billion. Toys “R” Us has seen stagnant profits for two years straight with annual sales remaining relatively flat and a 3.4 percent drop in sales from last year for second-quarter sales.

The giant toy retailer is hoping to make a significant dent with their new Tabeo. “It is our strategic position to offer products that you can’t find anywhere [else] or be compared on price,” said Troy Peterson, vice president at Toys “R” Us.

The company already has its work cut out for it. There are at least three popular child-friendly tablets already on the market. The Wi-Fi enabled Kurio 7 and Meep already went down in price to match the Tabeo’s $149 price point. While the soon-to-be released in the U.S. Lexibook still remains relatively high-priced at this time.

One thing that makes the Tabeo stand out from the others is branding. Everyone knows and trusts Toys “R” Us and their tablet comes preloaded with more than 50 popular apps, including Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. It runs on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and includes 4GB of expandable memory. The toy retailer also developed an app store with more than 7,000 downloadable games, books and educational programs.

“Over the past year, we’ve spent considerable time talking to parents and children to determine what features and functions they really want in a kids’ tablet, resulting in Tabeo,” Peterson said in a statement. “We are proud that Tabeo offers robust and flexible parental controls that can help protect children as they surf the Internet, and we are pleased to offer the tabeo App Store, which features only kid-safe content carefully curated by the Toys ‘R’ Us team.”

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik