Google Buys Launchpad Toys, Creator of Storytelling Apps for Kids

Managing Editor

Technology services giant Google has created a stir with its move to step into the apps-for-children market through its acquisition of Launchpad Toys, a popular online storytelling tool.

In a message posted on its Web site, Launchpad Toys officials said: “We’re proud to announce that our little toy company is pairing up with a great big team of tinkerers to empower GAJILLIONS of playful storytellers around the world.”

The pairing will help Launchpad Toys “create even more amazing creativity tools for kids,” the company boasted. “Today, we’ve made our digital toys and tools free to creative kids everywhere. Tomorrow… well, we can’t wait to share.”

Launchpad Toys referred questions about the deal to Google, and officials from the Mountain View, Calif.-based corporation declined to talk to Education Week about the acquisition.

Launchpad is the creator of Toontastic, a storytelling apps for kids, as well as TeleStory, which the company describes as taking users “behind the scenes to create and broadcast your own TV show,” in which they can “record a music video, teleport to an alien planet, film a high-speed-chase, or perform on a reality TV show.” TeleStory, the company says, “is a TV studio in your pocket.”

Here’s a video introduction to Toontastic:

Speculation abounds on the business strategy behind Google’s acquisition, with much of that chatter focused on the possibility that the move is part of a broader effort to reach larger audiences of children and families with new and existing products.

“[A] deal that may well be related to [Google’s] plans to launch a new version of YouTube aimed at kids,” suggested the Guardian, alluding to reports of the company’s interest in expanding the video-sharing service, which it owns.

“Worth remembering that Google definitely has its sight set on some of the youngest of customers,” noted the site 9-to-5 Google. The company “has plans to introduce kid-friendly versions of many of its services soon.”

“The deal appears to be part of the company’s bid to entice a much younger crowd with more kid-friendly products,” wrote Mashable.

Google is already a major player in K-12 schools, most notably through its platform Google Apps for Education tool suite.

Not everyone approves of the company’s work in districts.The Silicon Valley corporation has come under strong criticism from data-privacy advocates for scanning student emails for potential advertising purposes, a practice it pledged last year to abandon.

Recent industry data and reports from school districts also show a surge of interest among schools in buying Chromebooks, which rely on Google’s operating system.

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