A year after shutting down cell phone services that were targeted to U.S. youngsters and their parents, the Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that it would launch mobile phone services in Japan in partnership with Softbank Mobile Corp., the nation’s third-largest wireless operator. In 2006, Disney forged a network leasing agreement with Sprint Nextel that enabled the media and entertainment giant to enter the U.S. wireless market with specialized handsets and features designed for children. However, Disney pulled the plug on that venture after it failed to sign up enough outlets through which it could sell its phones and services. Through its partnership with Softbank, Disney will begin offering wireless services and handsets to Japanese customers on March 1 that will feature Disney-themed videos, games, ring tones, and other content. Unlike its defunct U.S. offering, Disney will target its new service to Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, who have ranked among the largest consumers of Disney products and services in that country. (Sources indicate that Disney—which already offers 90 mobile web sites on existing Japanese wireless networks—enjoys a strong following among the Japanese adult population.) Although handset prices were not disclosed, pricing plans for the Disney service will match those offered by Softbank, which will also provide customer services. Duncan Orrell-Jones, the senior vice president of Disney’s Internet division in Asia, proclaimed: “we believe there’s a big audience out there for the service we’re offering.”
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Disney to launch cell phone service in Japan
- Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
- Japan, USA
- January 25 2008
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