Friday, November 24, 2006

Children's software: a dismal market in Windows, dead for the MacTel

I've just completed another of my recurrent surveys of the state of children's software for OS X and Windows. The best I could find was this Windows-only site: Software for Kids - Children Educational Software, Child / Kid Game.

The bottom line is that this market is comatose on the Windows' side and worse-than-extinct on the Mac side. The "OS X" software sold may simply fail to work on newer machines -- that's worse than nothing.

As my wife asks, "What happened to the long tail?". I don't really know, I suspect piracy, quality issues, channel problems (marketing) and branding all played a role. I'd say that the consoles were where this market moved, but I'm not sure that's true. I read recently that the gaming market is under threat because there's little available for novices or children.

Is this a market failure, or am I missing something big? In the meantime I think I'll have to, reluctantly, put BootCamp on my MacBook and see how it works. (Parallels won't do the trick, it failed my game tests.) Even in the XP world there aren't many choices, but some of our ancient children's games (many are no longer sold) may run under XP for a while.

(I think I'll need to upgrade my MacBook drive in a year or two -- using BootCamp will suck space.)

Update 11/26/06: I came across this recent related article. The Nintendo Wii is starting to look like the right move at the right time. Kudos to Nintendo if they've guessed right. Of course there was much more to children's software than just games; there's no replacement on the horizon for the rest. One way out of this conundrum would be for Apple to start funding bundled educational solutions and a production platform for third parties to expand on them. It would help sell Macs, and piracy would be less of an issue for Apple.

No comments: