Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

To Mitt: Here’s Your Digital Etch A Sketch

A remark made by one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s advisers has sent online shoppers — and investors — into an Etch A Sketch frenzy.

In case you’ve missed the sandstorm, Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser, said on Wednesday that if Romney wins the GOP nomination, the campaign will “hit a reset button” to take on President Obama in the fall.

Fehrnstrom then added, “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

While Romney’s rivals have pounced on the comment — Newt Gingrich’s camp has even created a SketchyRomney app — Etch A Sketch fans have pounced on the venerable toy, buying it in droves on Amazon.com.

Politico reports that sales of the 1950’s relic shot up more than 2,000 percent on the e-commerce site, while Ohio Art Company, the maker of Etch A Sketch, saw its stock hit a 52-week high yesterday, before closing at $9.65, more than double its Wednesday closing price of $4.

Here at AllThingsD, we say: Why go for the plastic version, when you can play with a digital Etch A Sketch on your mobile appendages?

That’s right: Campaign platforms, errant Twitpics, awkward remarks — all erased with the shake of an iPad.

It’s a politician’s best friend.

For iPhone, there’s Etch A Sketch Premium, from Freeze Tag, Inc., a company that makes casual games for mobile devices and personal computers. It costs just 99 cents (or about 0.000001309367724577594 percent of the $75,609,012 Romney has raised to date).

Unlike the physical Etch A Sketch, users of this app can change the color of the toy’s frame, choose from a color palette when drawing, use predrawn shapes or a background (like Hangman), and share their drawings with friends via email, Facebook or a photo album. As with the original Etch A Sketch, you simply shake it to erase it.

But a smartphone screen is just too small for this kind of app, and the knobs of the Etch A Sketch appear to be cut off at the bottom. You can use your finger to draw, but that seems like Etch A Sketch sacrilege.

Fortunately, there’s an iPad app from the same company. This one costs $2.99, and is the real deal.

The Draw Something addicts out there can share their Etch A Sketch iPad drawings with friends over Wi-Fi. Or, users can draw alone, add photos from a photo album, use colorful stamps, share through Facebook and even access an iPod song library to set sketches to a soundtrack … like, maybe a campaign soundtrack?

For Android devices, there’s a free version of Freeze Tag’s Etch A Sketch with ads; and a 99-cent version without. There’s also the 99-cent Etch-a-Doodle app, which replicates the Etch A Sketch experience.

Those who would rather pay a more visible homage to Etch a Sketch can check out these retro red covers for mobile devices.

And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can attempt to make a Kinect-a-Sketch, as these guys did, as seen in the video below:

(Photo courtesy of Flickr/The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik