By: Mike Montgomery
One of the hottest toys on the market this Christmas isn’t a toy at all — at least, that’s what Sphero CEO Paul Berberian would like you to think. For years, Berberian resisted using the word “toy” when referring to his company’s rolling robots, which users can control through apps on their smartphones. But now he’s sheepishly giving in. That’s what happens when you have a massive hit.
The Sphero BB-8 is flying off the shelves. The $150 toy is based on a droid in the new Star Wars movie. BB-8 can patrol a room, figuring out the contours of every obstacle. He can dance and peek around corners. Most amazingly of all, his head stays in place as his body rolls along the floor.
“A toy is something you sell as plastic by the pound,” Berberian says from his company’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. “It devolved from something that inspired kids to something aimed at younger and younger kids.”