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Disney Goes Mobile

David Murphy

The Walt Disney Company has unveiled Disney MobileSM, the first national wireless phone service specifically designed for families, at the kick off of the CTIA Wireless 2006 tradeshow in Las Vegas. The 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 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.


Prioritise 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.
"Given our strong commitment to
embracing innovative technology, coupled with Disney's outstanding
creative content, Disney Mobile is perfectly positioned to transform
the way families come together and stay connected," said Robert A.
Iger, president and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company.
"Parents will appreciate Disney Mobile's unique capabilities to manage
family communications, and tweens and teens get the functions they're
seeking in today's wireless service."
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.
"Disney
Mobile uses sophisticated technology to make family communication
better and easier to manage than ever before," said Steve Wadsworth,
president of Walt Disney Internet Group. "We have addressed what
parents are looking for in a comprehensive mobile service, while also
balancing the needs of what kids want in a cell phone. Never before has
a mobile service offered such a feature-rich, customizable experience
for both parents and kids."
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:


Family Monitor
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.


Call Control
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.


Family Locator
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!
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.
"Parents told us that they value the
extra convenience and security a cell phone provides the family, but
they also expressed a desire to be able to supervise their children's
cell phone use and avoid the horror stories they have heard about
excessive mobile bill surprises," said George Grobar, senior vice
president and general manager, Disney Mobile. "Disney Mobile's Family
Center features give parents the best of both worlds. It provides the
ultimate in flexibility for parents, giving parents maximum visibility
to their family's phone usage, and allowing them to apply as much or as
little control as they see appropriate for their kids."


Entertainment
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.
Disney
Mobile subscribers will have access to a broad offering of Disney
content. The Disney Zone includes exclusive Vault Disney 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 mbile 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  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.