With subdued fanfare last week, it was announced that DreamWorks has partnered with Fuhu to produce a tablet designed specifically for kids. The Dreamtab makes for an interesting move for a studio that has so far stayed out of the hardware game.
The tablet is aimed specifically at kids, and while the physical side of things is being taken care of by manufacturer Fuhu, DreamWorks has stepped up to handle the software side of things. It should come as no surprise whatsoever that the apps they’re developing use the large and varied library of characters in the DreamWorks stable.
While that appears to be almost run of the mill, the development itself highlights a few things that make it rather significant. Firstly, it’s another milestone for DreamWorks on the road to becoming a technology company. They already have some experience in developing apps which will help them immensely now but by having control over the hardware too, they can tailor those apps to the hardware much better and hopefully improve their performance too.
Although they are naturally aiming for the younger end of the market, they’ve taken a different approach to rivals Disney. The Mouse House is, instead, contempt to develop software for other’s hardware and given both their vast vault of content to draw from and their relatively cosy relationship with Apple, that is unlikely to change.
So why would DreamWorks decide to create their own tablet? Doesn’t everyone have a tablet/phone already? Can’t kids operate an iPad just fine on their own?
Initially, I couldn’t get my head around it either, but making their own tablet actually makes sense. The reason, quite simply, is that while lots of kids have access to tablets (over 75%), only about 2% actually have a tablet of their own (and God forgive me, but I cannot locate the link to the article where the study for those numbers was discussed). In other words, kids will often have unrestricted access to say, TV, but will have limited engagement with tablets simply because parents need to use them too.
Enter the Dreamtab, which will permit every kid to have their own tablet independent of their parents but encompassing all that DreamWorks can produce. That’s crafty, and will certainly give them a leg-up on Disney when it comes to brand recognition amongst kids.
The downside? Well while it is laudable that DreamWorks will produce educational content for the device, it remains another screen to absorb a kid’s time. That’s not to say that kids shouldn’t engage, but rather that with this tablet, a kid’s day will revolved ever more around a screen of some kind to their detriment.
All in all, we’ll see how this pans out. It’s a bit risky for the studio, but they’re on a bit of a roll at the moment and have that momentum behind them.
On a broader scale, could the inclusion of apps featuring animation lead to a new generation of budding cartoonists?