Consistent with its strategic focus to pursue technologies that deliver outstanding creative content and services in new ways, The Walt Disney Company today unveiled Disney Mobile(SM), the first national wireless phone service specifically designed for families, at the kick off of the CTIA Wireless 2006 tradeshow in Las Vegas. This breakthrough wireless service will launch in June with innovative features that, for the first time, allow parents to directly manage their family's wireless experience.
Unlike traditional family plans that focus on shared minutes, Disney Mobile will offer a comprehensive, family-tailored service. It will provide customizable tools to balance kids cell phone use with controls that allow parents to manage family phone use and help teach kids responsible use. In addition, Disney Mobile will come equipped with all the things tweens and teens are looking for in a cell phone today - from a camera to messaging to popular ring tones and content.
At the core of Disney Mobile's family plans are the Family Center(TM) features, which allow parents to:
-- set spending allowances and track usage for voice minutes, text messaging, picture messaging and downloadable content
-- determine the hours of the day and days of the week when kids can use their phones
-- program restricted and always-on phone numbers to manage with whom kids may communicate
-- prioritize important family messages
-- locate kids' phones with GPS capabilities
Beyond the Family Center features, Disney Mobile will offer wireless voice service, text and picture messaging, and a broad range of entertainment and content that will appeal to every family member, and to Disney fans of all ages.
Disney Mobile phones will have a stylish, clam shell-style design that appeals to adults and kids alike, but the parents' phones will be configured with additional, exclusive functionality for managing the family's mobile experience. These controls may also be accessed via the Disney Mobile website.
Disney Mobile service will be available to consumers, beginning in June, at www.disneymobile.com and at Disney Mobile kiosks in malls throughout the U.S. Additional retail distribution channels are planned for later in the year. Pricing plans, which will be detailed closer to consumer availability, will be competitively priced with other family mobile plans and will include Family Center features as part of the basic service. Handset pricing will start at $59.99 when purchased with a two-year service agreement.
The centerpiece of the Disney Mobile experience is the innovative Family Center features, which are accessible on Disney Mobile phones and www.disneymobile.com. Its features include:
Disney Mobile's Family Monitor feature can help make surprise cell phone bills a thing of the past by giving parents the unique ability to manage their kids' cell phone use real-time. A parent can set monthly allowances for each kid for key aspects of cell phone use, including voice minutes, text and picture messages, and downloadable content such as ringtones, wallpapers and background themes. Summary usage for the entire family and each kid's individual usage can be tracked, and once a monthly allowance is reached, both the parent and the kid receive an alert on their phone. The parent can then decide whether to increase the allowance or restrict the phone's functionality through Call Control. The Family Monitor feature is accessible through Disney Mobile phones and www.disneymobile.com.
Disney Mobile's Call Control feature allows parents to use an online tool to designate when kids can use their cell phones, as well as who they can and cannot call. Parents can choose the day of week or even the time of day they will allow their kids to use their phones, eliminating use at inappropriate times such as during school hours or late at night. Call Control also gives parents the flexibility of programming "Always On" and prohibited numbers for added peace of mind. Even when phone use is restricted, kids will be able to communicate with family members on the same Disney Mobile family plan and "Always On" numbers and make emergency calls to 911.
The Family Locator feature allows parents to locate their kids' phones using advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Parents can access the Family Locator feature from their phones or from www.disneymobile.com by entering a PIN which each parent personally selects. Once access is authorized, parents can locate their kid's phone by selecting "locate" through the feature. When the phone's location has been found, the location, a map of the location, and an indication of accuracy appear.
Parents can use this feature at those times when it is inconvenient to call or when they know the child will be unable to answer their phone- such as during school hours or sports practices.
Family Alert! allows family members on the same Disney Mobile family plan to send each other prioritized messages so the messages are unlikely to be missed. Family Alert! messages prominently appear on the handset screen whenever the phone is idle, causing family members to acknowledge messages before using the phone for other services. For instance, at the end of a school day, parents can send a quick alert about a change of plans that will appear as soon as kids open their phones. Family Alerts can either be sent to an individual family member or all family members concurrently.
Disney Mobile has also simplified messaging for parents by offering a menu of preset, common family messages such as "Where RU?" and "Running late. Be there soon!" Of course, family members can also create their own unique messages. Unlimited intra-family messaging is included with the service.
In addition to its Family Center features, Disney Mobile will also offer parents, tweens and Disney fans of all ages a wide variety of Disney and other family-appropriate content to personalize and customize their Disney Mobile phones. The "Theme-It" function will allow multiple screens of the phone to be re-themed with a selection of related content chosen by the subscriber.
Given Disney's rich entertainment heritage, Disney Mobile subscribers will enjoy a broad offering of Disney content. The Disney Zone(TM) includes exclusive Vault Disney(TM) content only available to Disney Mobile subscribers and applications that will extend many of the online and offline worlds of Disney. At launch it will include a Radio Disney application that will allow direct interaction with Radio Disney and its family friendly music.
There also will be a broad assortment of general entertainment content to complement the service's Disney offerings.
"Parents want mobile phones to stay in touch with their families, and to give their kids a way to reach them in an emergency. But they worry about them running up high phone bills, spending too much time on the phone, downloading inappropriate content and being safe. They want and need the ability to control the mobile phone experience for their kids. Until now, no one has addressed this," said Parry Aftab, a leading Internet security and privacy lawyer and founder of WiredSafety.org, a non-profit organization devoted to educating parents and kids about online safety which has recently expanded into the mobile arena. "Disney Mobile does. It gives parents the controls they need to feel comfortable with their kids using a mobile phone. And for teens and tweens, it offers both the fun features and content they want and comfort and safety measures for them as well. It's not just parents who want control and safety, kids do too. They want to be able to block text-bullying messages, unsolicited incoming calls and marketing messages. Finally, someone is listening."
Disney Mobile will operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) utilizing the Sprint Nationwide PCS Network. The service will be available on affordably priced, fully customized camera-enabled phones with Disney's own exclusive, tailored user interface. Each phone will offer robust phone personalization features such as ringtones, screensavers, wallpapers, and a first-of-its-kind theme capability. Additionally the launch phones are a sleek clam-shell camera phone, with color screens, and text and picture messaging. Disney Mobile is part of Walt Disney Internet Group.
Disney Mobile will be a follow-up MVNO from the Walt Disney Company. Mobile ESPN, the only mobile phone service built from the ground up for sports fans, launched nationwide in February.