Disney has announced it will be shutting down its Disney Mobile phone service effective December 31, 2007. The kids-oriented service featured a collection of limited-functionality handsets, along with custom Disney-themed content and applications designed to appeal to the younger demographic. The service also offered features which enabled parents to monitor their childrens’ phone usage.
As of yesterday, Disney Mobile stopped offering content and application sales. The company sais it will offer reimbursements for handsets, accessories, and applications purchased through Disney Mobile, so long as users’ accounts are paid in full. Users will continue to be billed for service through December 31, 2007, unless customers call to terminate service earlier; Disney is encouraging customers to sign up for service with another carrier by November 30, 2007, to make sure phone numbers are transferred cleanly. Disney has not disclosed how many subscribers will be impacted by the shutdown.
The communications world reacted with some skepticism a year and a half ago when mega-brand Disney decided to partner with Sprint to create its own MNVO phone service. Disney has had difficulty getting Disney Mobile phones into large retail channels, and the phones themselves (rebranded handsets from LG) were lacking in many features children and teen users want. Disney is reportedly in talks with mobile operators to offer some of its popular services—like parental tracking—as add-on packages.
Disney Mobile’s shutdown marks the second failed mobile venture for the media company: Disney cancelled its ESPN-branded phones last year, shifting content developed for the service to Verizon Wireless.