Toys ‘R’ Us, owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (NYSE:KKR), Bain Capital and Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE:VNO), is getting into the tablet business.
The toy retailer announced today that it will launch its own child-friendly tablet computer. With the new gadget, Toys ‘R’ Us hopes not only to attract shoppers, but to stifle “showrooming,” the increasing tendency of shoppers to visit bricks-and-mortar stores to look at products, but then purchase them from online retailers at big discounts, The Wall Street Journal noted.
To that end, Toys ‘R’ Us’ new tablet, the Tabeo will be available only through the company. Retailing for $149.99, the Tabeo will hit shelves on Oct. 21.
The Tabeo joins an increasingly crowded market for table computers, with big-name companies scrambling to carve out a share of the market essentially created by Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad a few years ago.
Samsung, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and a host of smaller manufacturers have introduced tablets recently, some geared toward children. Just last week, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), a major online toy-retailing rival of Toys ‘R’ Us, unveiled its new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablets. Apple is widely expected to release a smaller-screen iPad Mini next month.
With so many tablet options for consumers, the Tabeo is considerably less than a sure bet for the toy seller, which has been dogged by competition from other discount chains like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT). That competition has only accelerated as the economy has remained sluggish, causing toy sales in the U.S. to slip 2% last year.
Toys ‘R’ Us has weathered flat sales and lower profits for two years. Last quarter, its same-store sales fell 3.4%.