Smart Toy sales are set to surge and grow to $15.5 billion in hardware and app content revenues by 2022. That’s up from just under $5 billion this year.

The figures are contained in a new study from Juniper Research.

Smartphone-based connected toys will drive the growth along with the enduring appeal of console-connected ‘toys to life’, action figures that interact with a video game via a reader device, according to the researchers.

The new research, Smart Toys: Hardware, Technology & Leading Vendors 2017-2022, identified the Lego Group as being particularly well positioned in this category, with their successful ‘toys to life’ range, Lego Dimension. Juniper forecasts that 224 million smart toys will be shipped worldwide in 2017.

The study found that many players in the smart toy segment are not only appealing to children, but also to ‘kidults’ and collectors, as demonstrated by Sphero’s BB8 app-enabled droid and Lego Dimension’s A-Team and Ghostbusters sets.

US Dominates Smart Toy Sales

In addition, the research forecasts that smart toy sales will be dominated by the US, based on historical high sales of ‘toys to life’ products and strong performance of smartphone-based smart toys.

However, China is set to disrupt this trend, with increasing disposable income and the legalisation of video game consoles for sale driving smart toy uptake. China will account for 18 per cent of the global smart toy shipments by 2022, representing an average annual growth of 42 per cent.

Privacy Issues

The research also found that privacy issues are a prominent concern of parents, academics and, increasingly, regulators. As smart toys develop more advanced connected features, they will increasingly be subject to both toy safety and privacy/data protection regulations such as the forthcoming European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Accordingly, Juniper recommends that vendors must be careful to ensure privacy rules are respected by their products to avoid costly fines and public relations issues.

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