Innovation That Matters

Rental service for kids' video games

Work & Lifestyle

Given the remarkable speed with which children can tire of their toys, it’s not too surprising that we’ve seen toy rental services emerge in both the US and—more recently—France. Since the very same phenomenon tends to occur with video games, it makes perfect sense to see a brand-new startup that focuses exclusively on that category of entertainment. Like both Babyplays and Dim Dom, California-based SmartyRents uses the Netflix model to help parents keep their children aged 9 months to 10 years old challenged and entertained. The effort was launched just last week by two former teachers, which is why it also focuses on games with an educational bent. Included in its inventory, for example, are top games from LeapFrog—including Little Leaps, Clickstart, Leapster and Didj—and from Vtech, including V.Smile Baby, V.Smile, V.Motion and V.Flash. Parents begin by signing up and choosing from among four rental packages, depending on how many games they’d like to have at one time. Monthly pricing ranges from USD 9.99 for one game at a time to USD 24.99 for four games at once. They then choose the games they’d like to start off with—the site even lets them search by the educational skills emphasized—and their selections get sent to their door along with a prepaid mailing envelope to use to return them. Games can be kept for as long as children enjoy them. Sending a game back prompts the next game on the family’s list to be sent; alternatively, those that are too hard to part with can be purchased for the site’s listed “Love it” price. Whether it’s toys or college textbooks, baby clothes, designer dresses or cellphones, freedom from the bonds of ownership is increasingly the way to transumers‘ hearts. SmartyRents, however, currently serves only the US; one to emulate for kids and parents in other countries? Spotted by: Susanna Haynie



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