It was awfully tough to squeeze all the Disney Mobile news into a tiny paragraph on the front page, so we're glad we can tell you more here.
MVNOs these days are targeting tightly-focused age groups. Disney Mobile wants young children, what marketers call "tweens" and young teenagers - kids from about 8 to 14 years old in non-marketer speak. These kids are obviously too young to buy their own phone, so Disney is not so much going after the kids as targeting the parents of the kids by trying to address the concerns of modern day tech-friendly middle-aged adults. This is going to be a popular target as Jitterbug will likely want to sell these same folks phones for their parents.
Disney will launch this summer online and in mall kiosks around the states. They will be pushing family plans pretty hard because they've designed the menus in their phones to optimize control and messaging for the whole family. From the "Family Center" menu on the phone, parents can locate their kids, control their use of minutes and data spending as well as message the whole family. When a family message is received or an alert is received about a child's spending, the message takes over the phone's home screen, requiring the parent or child's full attention.
Disney is not so unrealistic as to believe parents will simply drop their current phone and plan to be on Disney Mobile with their children, so they will also offer individual accounts which the parents can control from a web interface.
Disney will launch their service with the P100, an unfortunately bland phone. It is a rather old-school looking silver clamshell that looks and feels too much a like a two year old Samsung. Other than the Disney service, the only thing notable about this P100 is the VGA camera (with flash) and an external color LCD. It is most likely meant to be an expensive, durable unit for young kids, but the design still could have been more interesting or innovative. The menus certainly are.
Because Pantech is Disney's launch partner, the MVNO is exclusively advertising this phone, so it is difficult to say whether LG's more current handset will be available at launch as well. The L200 is the more grown-up of the two handsets. Based on LG's LX350 for Sprint, the L200 features a 1.3 MP camera, Bluetooth and more modern styling. The only difference between the LG350 and the L200 - other than the software - is that the cover is now red instead of black. This means the external LCD is no longer sleekly hidden in the face of the clamshell, but the red is friendly looking without being childish. We were pleasantly surprised that Disney did not disable the Bluetooth.
Disney will sell the P100 for $60 and the L200 for $110 with two year contracts. They did not discuss whether they will launch additional models this year, but the word is that one or two more will be available before year's end.
Both phones, and most likely all future models share the same menus / software. The main menu and each application menu has been simplified to five choices with limited sub-menus as well. Many applications found in modern phones have been simplified or eliminated altogether. But despite this simplification, the phone's menus do not feel dumbed-down, simplify clarified. As with the other new UIs shown at CTIA, we captured a video of Disney Mobile's menus. It's a short 40 seconds you can watch here:
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