El Segundo (CA) Mattel is seeking to turn around flagging sales by bringing Barbie into the 21st Century as an MP3 player and online community avatar all rolled into one.
The company has launched its latest iteration Barbie, a $60 model which can hold up to 160 MP3 songs and acts as a gateway to an online community, BarbieGirls.com; which the company hopes will see little girls worldwide linking up in a safe social networking environment.
The site will be closely monitored by Mattel to ensure that no bullying goes on the site, and that no predators can get access to children. There will be supervision, as well as a dictionary of words such as “stupid” and “hate” which are banned. Girls will not be able to give away their personal details except to those with whom they are “best buddies”, a status achieved by physically linking their digital Barbie’s to their home computer.
The digital Barbie experience could be a strong indication of the future direction of children’s toys, if it proves to be a success.