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Leapfrog to announce new platform

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« on: January 08, 2005, 05:37:14 PM »

from Reuters


Toy maker LeapFrog to unveil new platform
Fri Jan 7, 2005 05:55 PM ET

NEW YORK, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Toy maker LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. (LF.N: Quote, Profile, Research) , known for its line of LeapPad educational products, will be unveiling a new consumer electronics platform next week targeting an older audience, a Merrill Lynch analyst note said on Friday.

"The new platform is based on a never-before-seen technology and is targeted toward an older demographic which we surmise is late junior high, early high school," Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine wrote in a research report.

LeapFrog is hosting an event in New York to launch the product on Wednesday Jan. 12.

Emeryville, California-based LeapFrog has been under fire for a string of sales and earnings misses, and has admitted it relied too heavily on its LeapPad business.

In a December conference call when it retracted its 2004 earnings estimates, executives said, "We have several exciting programs in the works for 2005 that we believe will support and revitalize our core business."

The company said at the time it would unveil in February "a new learning platform based on a new technology with strong growth potential," but has not provided details.

Most toy makers show new product lines to the media and investment community in conjunction with Toy Fair, the annual toy industry trade show held in mid-February.

"We are pleased by the apparent interest and excitement surrounding our announcement next week," said LeapFrog spokeswoman Cherie Stewart. "We look forward to the unveiling on Wednesday and providing everyone with accurate information on the direction we are taking."

Most of LeapFrog's products are aimed at children, although some of its study aids target teens. Analysts have said the company could have trouble attracting older customers if its brand is associated with toys and younger consumers.

"Management is enthusiastic about the new platform and believes it will be sufficiently cool to attract teenagers," Fine said.

LeapFrog shares closed down 20 cents at $12.71.


A new PDA methinks Smiley

But if it's a closed system, i.e. one that doesn't allow for third party developers, it'll be a disappointment
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