NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Purple Moon LLC, established to meet a need for software targeted to preteen girls, may have succeeded all too well -- it reportedly ceased operations because of an oversaturated market.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Mountain View, Calif., company laid off all of its 40 employees.
The company was established in 1996 by software developer Brenda Laurel, with financial backing from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Laurel's intent was to create nonviolent, noncompetitive programs that coincided with girls' interests; she contended that most programs were targeted to -- and used exclusively by -- boys.
Purple Moon's best-known programs featured a girl named Rockett and her efforts to fit in at her new school, Whispering Pines Junior High. The programs received critical acclaim, and spurred Purple Moon to expand to include a Web site and merchandise related to the characters. Officials were talking about a possible TV show involving the characters.
But Mattel, the leading toy maker, soon came to dominate the girls' software market when it released programs featuring its best-known character, Barbie. Other companies began targeting girls, and were doing it with flashier graphics and better animation than Purple Moon.
"I was under the impression it was enjoying some success," DFC Intelligence games analyst David Ward told the Journal. "But it looks like going it alone without a license was too tough in competition with Barbie."
The Purple Moon Web site was still in operation early Friday.