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Disney on Thursday unveiled its own MP3 player called the Mix Stick that it hopes would appeal to younger children who are increasingly turning to electronic toys over the traditional dolls and toy trucks. The company also is betting on its $49 retail price as a way to entice parents who may not be willing to spend $99 on an iPod Shuffle.
Mix Sticks will come in four different designs -- Disney Chrome, Forever Princess, Sassy Pixie and That's So Raven -- and are built for children age 6 to 12. However, from the characters selected for the designs, it appears Disney is attempting to target young girls.
Disney's Mix Stick will work much like a traditional MP3 player in the way that a user transfers music purchased from the Internet or copies songs from a CD. In addition, a child could also play music by inserting a pre-filled memory card that Disney is calling "Mix Clips."
About the size of a postage stamp, the Mix Clip card would be able to hold approximately one CD worth of music. Initially, Disney will release four different titles including songs from Hillary Duff and James Brown, as well as music featured in the company’s television shows.
On its own, the Mix Sticks hold up to 60 songs with a 128MB capacity. The player also supports Microsoft's Windows Media format. Disney representatives say the devices will be available in retail locations such as Target and Wal-Mart, and at clothing retailer Limited Too.
Customers would have the option to expand the memory to 1GB through a memory card.
Even though MP3 players may not be Disney's core business, Jupiter Research vice president and senior analyst David Card said the players should be successful.
"Disney's done branded CD and DVD players before, and Mix Clips aren't too original -- although ultra-small kid-targeted music formats are usually clips-only, and sold as keychains," Card said. "At $49, it's priced to move."
What remains to be seen, however, is if in the eyes of kids the Mix Stick will be an acceptable alternative to the trendy -- and more expensive -- iPod.