This isn't the tablet's finest hour.
's iPad is coming off back-to-back quarters of declining sales.
's CEO told
last week that tablet sales in general are
But no one seems to be having as hard a time in today's dicey
tablet climate as
LeapFrog. The maker of electronic learning toys became an
unlikely player in this space with the successful debut of the
original LeapPad tablet in 2011.
The kid-friendly tablet was limited, of course. It was
restricted to running LeapFrog's learning apps. It didn't have
unrestricted access to the Web. It was just an evolutionary step
from its flagship edutainment offerings, giving young children
the form factor of a tablet complete with a sturdy touch-screen
price was right
. At $100 it was half the price of the Kindle Fire, which was
making waves as an entry-level device, and a fifth of the price
of the trendsetting iPad. It was a hit. LeapFrog couldn't make it
fast enough, forcing parents to scramble that holiday season to
pay a premium through auction sites and other marketplaces. The
LeapPad 2 was also a hit a year later. But by the time the
LeapPad Ultra -- providing a more tabletlike experience with some
Web-surfing features and a $150 price tag -- rolled out last
year, the marketplace was changing. Some traditional
Android-fueled tablets were even cheaper, and even Apple was
starting to feel vulnerable.
Source: LeapFrog Enterprises.
Take two tablets and call me in the mourning
Apple's in a tough spot with the iPad. The stock may have
recently hit a two-year high and its iPhone and Mac sales are
climbing nicely, but it's a different story for the iPad.
Apple sold 16% fewer iPads during its fiscal second quarter --
ending in March -- than it did a year earlier. Apple conceded
that orders had cooled off because retailers had too many unsold
iPads on their hands after the holiday quarter. That's scary. But
instead of seeing the consumer tech giant bounce back in its most
recent quarter, Apple posted a 9% decline in iPad units sold in
its fiscal third quarter.
That's bad, and while tablet sales in general have started to
get challenging -- presenting an opportunity for laptops and
other portable PCs to win back the market -- no one has it as bad
LeapFrog is reporting that consolidated net sales plunged 43%
in its latest quarter, and sales are falling even harder
domestically. LeapFrog didn't specifically break down how much of
the decline is coming from its tablets relative to its other
product lines, but the word "tablet" was mentioned 57 times
during Monday night's call.
LeapFrog hopes to get things right with the new LeapPad 3 and
LeapPad Ultra XDi, but even it's holding back on the more
conventional consumer electronics tablet that it was going to
roll out in time for the holidays this year. That device won't
hit the market until sometime after March of next year at the
Innovate your way out of this mess
Investors in both Apple and LeapFrog hope that new product
categories will help drive growth later this year, offsetting the
fade in tablet popularity. Apple is tight-lipped about the
potential for wearable computing and making a bigger splash on
TV, but LeapFrog isn't as secretive. We know that the LeapBand --
LeapFrog's push into fitness tracking -- and the LeapTV video
game console are coming.
Given the way that LeapFrog has been beaten down after a
string of terrible reports -- the stock has shed nearly half of
its value since peaking two summers ago -- it's always possible
that LeapBand or LeapTV can move the needle if either one is a
hit this holiday season. But LeapFrog needs a new hit, unlike
Apple, which is thriving on two other fronts as its tablets
languish and its product pipeline flows in stealth mode. LeapFrog
may be the iconic brand in electronic learning, but it's the one
getting schooled these days.
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originally appeared on Fool.com.
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