Mattel started selling a new "Barbie Girls" MP3 doll this week, in an attempt to get hip to a generation immersed in technology. About three months ago, Barbie launched a new virtual world for girls online to compete with likes of Club Penquin (recently bought by Disney) and Webkinz, maker of plush toys. Barbie's new MP3 player is designed to buoy that virtual world effort and resuscitate flagging sales of its traditional glamor doll. Barbie Girls are handheld MP3 players that can be accessorized like a doll and used to unlock special animations, make friends and shop in a virtual world on the Web.
Mattel is hoping a Barbie MP3 player can lure an audience of little girls through music, and eventually outpace other real-to-virtual-world toys. The music player, which began selling in stores this week for about $60, can hold up to 120 MP3s or 240 WMA-file songs. Girls can buy $10 accessory kits to dress up the toy MP3 player. The question is, will girls buy them?