Delivering the first comprehensive mobile phone service specifically developed to meet the needs of parents and their kids, The Walt Disney Company today launched Disney Mobile www.disneymobile.com) in the U.S. with innovative features that, for the first time, allow parents to directly manage their family's wireless experience. The company also announced pricing plans and sales channels.
"Families have clearly told us that they have different needs than the average mobile phone user," said George Grobar, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Mobile. "We built a complete mobile experience that is specifically designed to meet their needs and is uniquely Disney from end-to-end. Disney Mobile will allow parents to manage their family's phone use and help teach kids responsible use."
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, receiving alerts when allowances have been reached;
* 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; and
* locate kids' phones with GPS capabilities.
"Parents and young people have both been looking for more control in their mobile phone service," noted Parry Aftab, a leading Internet security and privacy lawyer, and founder of WiredSafety.org. "After seeking control over such things as who can call or text them, unexpected charges and high-monthly bills, and access to content, they now have the answer in Disney Mobile, which has delivered on all of these desired features."
Disney Mobile offers consumers a range of competitive individual and family plans. Individual plans start at $39.99 per month and range up to $169.99 per month. Family plans, all inclusive of two lines, start at $59.99 per month and range up to $249.99 per month. Additional lines can be added to any Family Plan for $9.99 per month. All plans include Disney Mobile's innovative Family Center features, a bundle of daytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends (Mon - Thurs: 9pm-5:59am and Fri 9pm-Mon 5:59am), unlimited nationwide long distance and unlimited mobile-to-mobile family calling. The plan benefits apply only on the Disney Mobile network and may not be available while roaming. 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 Disney fans of all ages. Handset pricing will start at $59.99, when purchased with a two-year service agreement.
"Since we know that many parents may already be under contract with another carrier, we are making it easy for them to sign up their children for Disney Mobile and, as the Family Manager, use all of the Family Center features from the web at disneymobile.com," noted Grobar. "This enables them to enjoy the benefits and ease of use of managing their family's mobile phone experience online from home or office."
Consumers can purchase Disney Mobile by going to www.disneymobile.com or calling 1-866-DISNEY2.
As part of a phased retail roll-out, freestanding kiosks managed by authorized Disney Mobile dealers are planned to open in shopping malls across the country. Co-branded with Mobile ESPN, the first kiosks are open in the following locations:
* Roosevelt Field, Garden City, NY
* Crystal Mall, Waterford, CT
* Auburn Mall, Auburn, MA
* The Hanover Mall, Hanover, MA
* Meriden Mall, Meriden, CT
* Stonebriar Centre, Frisco, TX
* Mall of Georgia, Buford, GA
* Tuttle Crossing, Dublin, OH
"Our retail footprint will continue to expand rapidly over the summer," noted Grobar. "Our goal is to make it easy and simple for consumers to sign up for Disney Mobile at places that are convenient and already a part of their daily lives."
The centerpiece of the Disney Mobile experience is its innovative Family Center features, which include:
Disney Mobile's Family Monitor feature can help make surprise cell phone bills a thing of the past by giving parents the 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 to receive an alert at a higher allowance, ignore the alert, or restrict the phone's functionality through Call Control. The Family Monitor feature is accessible through Disney Mobile phones and www.disneymobile.com with unlimited use included in all Disney Mobile calling plans.
Disney Mobile's Call Control feature allows the Family Manager to use an online tool to designate when kids can use their cell phones, as well as whom they can and cannot call. The Family Manager 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 the Family Manger 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 call with family members on the same Disney Mobile family plan and "Always On" numbers and make emergency calls to 911. Unlimited use of Call Control is included in all Disney Mobile calling plans.
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 and a map of the location including an indication of accuracy are available.
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. Five shared Family Locator searches are included in every Disney Mobile calling plans each month, and subscribers can upgrade to unlimited Family Locator searches for an additional fee.
Family Alert! allows family members on the same Disney Mobile family plan to send each other prioritized messages so the messages are less likely 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 Alert! 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 itself as well as Trivial Pursuit Disney Mobile Edition, where players can test their Disney trivia knowledge or compete against other Disney Mobile players across the country. They can even track their progress and ranking through multiple skill levels on a real-time leader board.
There also will be a broad assortment of general entertainment content to complement the service's Disney offerings.
Disney Mobile will operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) utilizing the enhanced Sprint Nationwide PCS Network. Family Center Features may not function when roaming or as a result of other network or system limitations. Kids can access the Family Monitor and Family Alert! features on their Disney Mobile phones. Online access by kids to these features will be available soon.
About Disney Mobile
Disney Mobile is the first national wireless phone service built to meet the unique communication needs of today's family. It provides wireless voice and data services and custom handsets. In addition, Disney Mobile offers a package of features and applications tailored to meet the unique communication needs of families. The Family Center(TM) suite, with four innovative services, enables parents to directly manage their families' wireless experience, including controlling when and how often kids use their phones; locating kids' handsets using GPS technology; helping to protect their kids from unwanted calls and messages; and sending priority text messages to all Disney Mobile family plan members simultaneously. Disney Mobile offers an array of content that parents trust and kids enjoy drawn from the rich entertainment heritage of Disney.
George Grobar is senior vice president and general manager of Disney Mobile, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group, which is headquartered in North Hollywood.