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Disney To Sell Branded Cell Phones At A Hefty Price

  • L.A. Times, Wednesday, November 30, 2005 10:02 AM
The Walt Disney Company is aggressively moving into the mobile phone industry, attempting to lure niche audiences away from traditional cell carriers like Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile by selling their news and entertainment directly to consumers. A new wireless phone service, Mobile ESPN, will offer sports fans news, scores, and highlights on their phones. A second service, Disney Mobile, attempts to capitalize on Disney's entertainment properties. These services join the ranks of a new breed of cell provider: mobile virtual network operators, which license cell network space from carriers (such as Sprint Nextel in the case of Disney) and then offer branded multimedia content. But these premium services come at a hefty price - Disney's phones cost $400, and between $65 and $225 per month depending on the plan. Analysts are skeptical the pricey offerings are compelling enough to gain traction with consumers, but Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger is convinced branded content and mobile services are key to the company's "road map to the future," which is all about finding new forms of distribution for its entertainment properties.

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