We've tracked Disney Mobile's adventures on our blog, most recently being very critical of Disney's mismanagement of its USA Disney Mobile MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) operation which they terminated earlier this year.
When we consider Disney the strongest global children's brand, and that the mobile phone is the most cherished devices that children have (or want to have) in the industrialized world, every bit of logic suggests Disney should be in mobile telecoms in every market, and in ever increasing ways. Yes, mobile is the 7th Mass Media and a big media empire like Disney needs to find its opportunity on mobile; and yes, kids of today are part of Generation C (Community Generation) and if Disney wants to remain relevant to their primary target audience, they have to be present on mobile.
But yes, they tried and messed it up totally in the most backwards mobile telecoms market, the USA (where it would have been easiest for Disney to succeed). But you'll remember I blogged clearly that Disney cannot stay away from mobile. On October 4, 2007 I wrote in our blog that "Of course Disney will still return to mobile". I am a bit stunned that it actually happened this fast, though.
As now, word comes from Japan that Disney is launching its Disney Mobile MVNO on the Softbank network as reported on CNN last night and for example on Bloomberg News.
So, first, Disney Mobile is back. But secondly, they fail in the easiest, most backwards market in the world. Then Disney right jumps into the most challenging market in the world, Japan? Yeah, that sounds smart to me, ha-ha... But seriously, Disney has been active in Japan since 1999 when NTT DoCoMo's iMode launched, and has had several of the most popular forms of content on the three Japanese mobile networks ever since then. This is a natural market for Disney and as long as they let their current Disney Japan people and competence run the operation, it should do very well even in that most demanding mobile market.
Then at some point that management and knowhow should be used by Disney to launch similar MVNO's in many other markets (most MVNO markets in fact) from USA and Canada to the big European markets already open to MVNOs ie UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, to the smaller European markets, and onto Australia and those Asian markets with MVNOs such as Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Hong Kong.
And as a somewhat related comment - now Japan is opening for MVNOs. Very cool. Expect a stampede of MVNO entrants into Japan. If Softbank opened the door this week, then I hope NTT DoCoMo and KDDI have a good strategy as well to acquire attractive MVNOs. Of course they should all talk to successful and especially innovative MVNOs such as another youth brand, MTV, or university student MVNO Dot Mobile with SubTV in the UK, or advertising funded youth MVNO, Blyk, etc. And obviously, youth is not the only attractive MVNO model.
We'll keep our eyes on the MVNO developments in Japan. Will get interesting. And when does China follow suit?