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Furby Boom’s App Expands Play Patterns, and the Furby Empire

Furby Boom, $65 Hasbro

by Warren Buckleitner

Duchess Kate isn’t the only celebrity having a baby this week.

Today (July 22, 2013)  Hasbro announced that the 2013 edition of Furby, called Furby Boom ($65, www.hasbro.com) can be ordered online and will be in toy stores next month. Furby Boom, unlike previous Furby editions, can now reproduce in virtual form, providing you have a free app installed on your smart phone or tablet.  

Why is Furby Boom important? It uses a new interesting social transmission type of play strategy that uses a free app and egg trading. The play patterns are tried-and-true, and they depend on the proliferation of children’s mobile devices, which serve as the transfer mechanism.  Five years ago such a toy couldn’t exist.

I’m trying not to use the word “virus,” because of the negative connotations. But there are similarities, in part because so many children have smart phones (Pew says 47% as of last year)  and the way eggs are traded.

Hasbro’s objective is to sell more, obviously, or “infect” as many young customers as possible so that there will be Furby toys alongside your child’s comparably-priced American Girl doll or LEGO Star Wars set this fall. In the past, a toy company would rely on top down advertising to do the job. 

If you have one Furby, it’s more fun to have two, and if your friend has one, they can have an egg together.  That egg can be traded on an iPod Touch on the playground. Think of your mobile device as a Furby DNA carrier, or a conduit to connect what used to be an isolated Furby individual to the larger society. Boom.

Will it work? Probably, even at $65, Furby is fun and does a lot, and there are plenty of hidden surprises, including the ability to visit the bathroom. You just never know what will pop out of that egg. Things are helped along, because a solo Furby works just fine as a stand alone toy, and the app has stand-alone games, too. But when they are put together, that is when things get interesting.

HOW IT WORKS At first glance, Furby Boom looks and acts  like the 2012 edition, with the same eyes, size and batteries (four AA). The fur is softer and the voice is noisy. Cosmetic differences include notched ears, cloth feet and your choice of six fur patterns, with another six planned by the year’s end. Inside, however there are some important differences — 2x the memory, the ability to learn slang from other Furbys, 12 new personalities, and most importantly, the ability to work with a free app to extend the Furby-related play onto screens. For the first time, you can collect eggs from your friend’s Furby, adding a reproduction/collection twist to the Furby play, that makes you want to continue meeting and buying additional Furbys. Things get more fun if your Furby meets other Furbys, and you and/or your friend has a smart phone that can run the free Furby app. And most children do these days. 

Note: Don’t mix up this new app with the last year’s Furby app. The 2013 edition won’t be in app stores until the toys are in stores. Both the app and the toy can work independently from one another; when used together, they compliment and enhance one another. This is a value add situation. 

LAYING AN EGG The app gives Furby the ability to lay eggs which can be stored and hatched inside the app. One app can store up to 12 eggs, and 49 Furblings. Once you get 50, you can earn special Golden Egg. Hasbro has worked hard to keep Furby genderless (they avoid the terms he/she in all marketing communications), however laying eggs will probably tip the hat toward female. We’ll leave that call to you. You start by installing the app, and getting the app and your Furby talking. This happens through sound. Your App emits very high sounds, as does your Furby, and both can hear one another. Furby can communicate with the onscreen baby through sounds, and there’s a strong Tamagotchi play pattern, where you  care and nurture your baby Furbling, giving it a bath, feeding it and playing with it. More interaction with both you and the parent means more development and more Furbucks (the on-screen currency) which can be used to buy more toys, things for the house, and so on, until your Furby goes to live in an apartment in the city where it waits for your visit. In the meantime you can raise another Furbling. You can store up to 50 grown Furblings inside one app; at which point you get to hatch a Golden Egg. 

A COLLECTING PLAY PATTERN. Borrowing from the tradition of Webkinz, with a dash, perhaps of Moshi Monsters, you are encouraged to start meeting other Furby owners. Every time you meet another Furby, you can collect a new egg, giving Furby owners a reason to find one another (and buy more Furbys). Mix in a bit of a Webkinz business model, and you can see what Hasbro has in mind.

TWO VIDEOS We talked with Kris Paulson, Furby’s Lead Designer about how Furby works.  CTR’s Ben Kates created two videos — one short (below), and for those wanting more detail, longer 12 minute version. We’ve embedded  the short video.

 Here are some other Furby Boom facts. 

* You can now put your Furby to sleep by pulling its tail for 10 seconds. Furby yawns and starts a quiet slumber until he is moved. This is an important new feature because it rubs against the original “it has it’s own life” philosophy. For the first time, a frustrated parent has an “off” option and can silence Furby’s famous banter.

• The Furby App can easily communicate with your tablet or smart phone, as long as the app has been installed and started. No syncing or pairing is required. The tablet and Furby communicate via  “audio watermarking technology”, which has also been called digital chirps — basically high frequency sounds that Furby can send or receive.

• Eggs hatch rather quickly, and turn into Furblings. You can also collect eggs from friends, or pick up eggs by scanning QR codes in toy stores.

• This is a worry-free, closed information eco-system, with no possibility of identity transfer, chat, or personal information sharing. In other words, Furby is safe.

• There are no in-app sales. The app is free; Hasbro makes money by selling more Furbys or Furby-related stuff in toy stores.

• You’ll see Furby advertised on TV and in other places this holiday season.

• Your Furby can have a name. According to Paulson ‘there are about 120 possibilities.”

• A dashboard in the app quickly tells your Furby’s status, much like a Tamagotchi, the first virtual life toy.

• Both are powered by four AA batteries, and can be equally annoying to any nearby adult. Because Furby also turns itself off, battery life is no problem.

• To lay an egg, you start the Furby app, and put your Furby within earshot of your tablet. You aren’t sure how your newly hatched Furby will turn out, so there’s a surprise element.

• Furby Boom isn’t cheap. It costs $65; $5 more than last year’s edition.

• Last year’s Furby won’t work the new Furby Boom app. But they can “talk” and sing in concert.

Filed in: Ages, All Ages, Announcements, Research, Smart Toy, Tablets

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29 Responses to "Furby Boom’s App Expands Play Patterns, and the Furby Empire"

  1. Susan Trentini says:

    We just bought a furby boom for my 4 year old after all the videos she had to have but where is the app and when will it be available that’s half the reason for buying this creature. They sell it advertising the app but its not available!

  2. Mrs.Furbs says:

    My furby won’t scan into the app GRRR. Tablet.

  3. Your furby doesn’t actually “scan” with the app… it happens with sound — by way of a process called audio watermarking (or digital chirp technology). Make sure your sound is turned up on your iPad or iPhone; it might help. It could be as simple as your Furby can’t hear your app. Good luck.

  4. Furby says:

    My furby will not scan!!!!

  5. Furby says:

    I have tried to scan it 1000000000 times but it will not wok!!!!!!

  6. Lyn says:

    Just go to Settings, general, restrictions and put on the furby app !!! I have tried to scan it 1000000000 times too and finally I did it!!!!!!

  7. Michelle says:

    I went to settings general restrictions but what do you mean put on furby app? cannot get furby boom to scan

  8. Donna says:

    The furbyboom don’t scan the app on it. I can’t scan here any help would be good please.

  9. Kelly says:

    does anyone know if the furby boom app is compatable on the new XO kids tablet?

  10. lily says:

    i wode like to ask what is the famous furby boom

  11. Smilte says:

    After long hours of scanning and tearfull moments go on Ipad->Settings-> Privacy->Microphone->and ACTIVATE Furby Boom App !!! Then try and scan your Furby- it will apper within seconds! I think it shoud be mentioned in Apps details, as we were about to return Furby back to the shop :/…

  12. Keke says:

    Can u have 2 golden furbys on the app because whenever I try to get my second one a room at the city the screen just goes blank

  13. Christel says:

    My cat seems VERY freighted by the Furby Boom. Could that have anything to do with the high frequency sounds emitted, or is it not loud enough to send her running to hide under the couch?

  14. jamel tuarez says:

    I wonder if my furby learn a language or can only speak English and if I want to speak Spanish?

  15. Gillian says:

    My son got a lightening bolt furby, does anyone know how you collect all the furblings? He doesn’t know anyone else with a furby to collect the other patterned furblings. Also does anyone know how to access the furblings that you get with the qr
    Codes? Scanned them in and hatched them but they have all been put into 1 room in the 2nd city and can’t access any of them..

  16. buckleit says:

    Only “Furbish” which, with time, turns more into English. I don’t think Furby has been localized.

  17. #furby4christmas says:

    I don’t have a furby boom but I asked for one for Christmas from Santa and I want to know if a furby boom can lay eggs of a different pattern??? I would really like to know before I get one!!

  18. joe says:

    I get one for my niece along with galaxy tab 3(android) and cant sync it with tablet… furby works well app is bit crapy even if I fed it app said I missed… cant see section with games, washing and hole hatching thing… what I can do in app is feeding and music section… yea and app keep turning sounds on max what is annoying.

  19. dawn says:

    We bought the furby and a kurio 7 for our 5 year old and are having problems even finding the furby boom app. We are very frustrated and about to return then both. Please help. My older children loved the previous version of the furby and we would really like for him to be able to have the same if not a better experience. I Ann at my wits end…

  20. Meredith says:

    What a frustrating morning! Both my daughters received a Furby Boom. Neither will scan on our Asus tablet. Any suggestions?

  21. Make sure you have the volume turned up.

  22. Gill says:

    You have to search for furby boom or furby boom 2013. We have linked it to my elder daughters ipad but havent been able to link it to my other daughters whos Furby it is Asus tablet since. Dont know if this is because you can only link it to one device or not.

  23. a t says:

    To those with the Furby Boom – if you get a black screen with the face in the corner …

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.haxor

    Install this app. Leave the dimming setting at about 50%. Solved the problem immediately for my kids tablets.

  24. Heather says:

    Our furby will to wake up for more than 5 seconds. We have reset it multiple times. It will not scan either.

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