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Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2003
Making a Play for Eager Minds

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For the last few years, LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has been king of the pond in the electronic learning toys business.

Now, Mattel Inc. is trying to elbow its way onto the lily pad. Through its Fisher-Price division, the El Segundo company jumped in this year with its electronic read-aloud toy, the PowerTouch Learning System.

There's no question that LeapFrog has to worry about other companies' taking share," said toy industry analyst Sean McGowan of Harris Nesbitt Gerard in New York. "When your market share is 80%, it's a lot easier for it to go down than to go up — and when you go from 0% market share to 80% in essentially five to seven years, you're the guy everyone is gunning for."


To meet Mattel's challenge, LeapFrog accelerated the introduction of new toys, said Tim Bender, LeapFrog's head of sales and marketing. The firm's LeapPad Plus Writing, a $50 device for children 4 to 8 that helps with handwriting, wasn't due until next year, and a new hand-held platform called Leapster originally was slated to launch in 2005.

"To me, you can either ignore the competition and act like they're not there, or you can respond to them," Bender said. "In our case, we got more aggressive."

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