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Disney Courts 'Tweens With Video, Music Player

  • Summary: Walt Disney Co. (DIS) will today unveil the "Mix Max," a portable music and video player similar to Apple's (AAPL) iPod, but aimed at a younger demographic; the 9-13 age bracket. The player will retail for $99 and should hit the market in late October. In addition to the option of downloading music and videos from the Internet, the Mix Max offers the option of viewing movies stored on memory cards. Disney plans to offer its own movies on these cards for $19.99 -- much more than movies offered by Sprint Nextel Co. for viewing on cellphones, and more than Disney movie downloads from Apple's iTunes. In an unusual move, Disney has left the Mix Max technology open. "There's nothing tying it to Disney," says Chris Heatherly, global vice president of Disney global electronics. "We intentionally left the platform open because we knew kids would want other video material." The "'tween" demographic is increasingly appealing to retailers like Disney, Hasbro (HAS) and Mattel (MAT): for the 12 months ended in July, this demographic was responsible for over $975 million in sales in the U.S., over 10% more than a year earlier.
  • Comment on related stocks/ETFs: Apple has plenty of competitors clamoring to enter the iPod-wannabe market (for instance, RealNetworks (RNWK) and SanDisk (SNDK)), but Disney is among the first in the field to come out with a device targeting middle-school-aged children. Travis Johnson has some observations about Microsoft's (MSFT) attempt to break into the iPod space with the forthcoming Zune. Carl Howe notes that the Zune's target market has been "buying Apples for years."

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Source: Disney Aims to Capture iPod's 'Tween Market With New 'Mix Max'