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I've been online since 1971 and I like to smoothe the way for everyone else. Among other things I co-founded Sympatico, the world's first easy-to-use Internet service (and Canada's largest).

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Toying with Web 2.0

Toronto toymaker Ganz (teddy bears, etc.) has a line of plush toys called Webkinz, which are apparently extremely popular (I don’t have kids and don’t know these things). I mention this here because today’s Globe and Mail says that “Ganz’s product is revolutionary: It’s the first real-world toy that’s essentially just a key to an interactive website.” Each “pet” gets its own room online, and as the Ganz website says, “Earn more Kinzcash to add on more rooms and yards, so pets can play outdoors.” Doesn’t this sound like Second Life? In this case you can’t use real currency to buy virtual currency directly. Instead you use it to buy more physical products: parents buy their kids additional Webkinz over time. In February, Webkinz.com had around 3 million unique visitors, which I find pretty impressive given that during the same month Facebook had around 17 million. Click here for the full story.

2 Comments:

Blogger gwirish50 said...

Webkinz even made it on the "The National" tonight. I do have kids and yes Webkinz is very popular. My 10 year old races home from school to jump onto Webkinz.com with the friends she just left from school. She plays right up to the time limit of the Rogers parental controls every day. It has pretty much displaced MSN messaging, which is generally a good thing.
And yes, as far as I can tell, it is just like Second Life for stuffed toys. The virtual Webkinz somehow earn Kinzcash and then can buy houses, furniture, food etc. One of them even recently got sick and there was some tension when the Rogers time limit ran out before the sickness could be dealt with. The Webkinz stuffed toys don't really serve any purpose other than to give the parents something to bring home from the toy store. Ganz could easily sell the virtual Webkinz directly on-line, if they don't already.
In all, a great piece of work by Ganz. Nothing really new here, but Second Life and stuffed toys brilliantly repackaged together.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 12:49:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Rohan Jayasekera said...

Thanks for the comment, Gord. And I wonder how much traffic Webkinz.com has drawn away from Neopets. As one kid put it on cbc.ca, "webkinz are sooooooooo much coller than neopets because,the are much more funer and also,you get a stuffed animal!!!!!!!!DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!". Actually I just learned that plush Neopets (and other merchandise such as stickers) have been sold for years — but there is no tie-in between the physical and the virtual, which is central to Webkinz.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 6:17:00 AM EDT  

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