In a statement provided to The Verge, Sphero CEO Paul Berberian confirmed that Sphero is cleaning out its remaining licensed inventory and has no plans to produce more.
Sphero will no longer make BB-8, BB-9E, R2-D2, Lightning McQueen cars, or talking Spider-Man toys. None of the products are available from the Sphero website anymore, with Sphero instead selling its own Bolt, Mini, and SPRK+ products.
The licensed products are now "legacy products" no longer in production, though App Support is set to continue for at least two years.
Berberian said that Sphero is discontinuing its Disney partnership because the licensed toy business "required more resources" than it was worth, with sales waning over time after a movie was released.
"When you launch a toy, your first year's your biggest," he says. "Your second year's way smaller, and your third year gets really tiny." The opposite is true of the company's non-licensed educational robots, he says, which become more popular year after year.
With its licensed partnerships at an end, Sphero will now focus on expanding its educational ecosystem with the goal of getting more products into schools.
Update: Sphero has provided a statement on its plans not to renew its Disney licenses:
At Sphero, our goal is to keep kids learning through the excitement of play. Through our Disney partnership, we were able to develop robots that allowed iconic personalities to come to life. As we develop a roadmap for the future, Sphero products will continue to build on our successes, expand interactive play and STEAM learning efforts, while keeping products accessible for all ages.
In today’s world, we know STEAM education is more important than ever. There’s a huge opportunity to inject our technology into this field to teach kids crucial real-world skills, through fun, interactive learning. Sphero robots are currently in 20,000+ schools and in many more homes; our vision is to bring coding into every classroom and living room.
In 2019, we will not be renewing our Disney licenses. We’re looking forward to a future of many new products that continue to encourage STEAM learning through play. Look for a new product to be announced at CES that inspires creativity and taps into the A of STEAM learning.
With the new announcement about Sphero's focus on education, the online Apple Store is now selling Sphero's Bolt robotic ball, introduced back in September. Bolt is aimed at teaching children basic programming with advanced sensors, an LED matrix, and infrared communication.