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Disney ends mobile service

MVNO to cease operations at end of year

A high-profile new media experiment from Disney has not been a success and will be shuttered, company said Thursday.

The Mouse House’s family-friendly proprietary mobile service, or MVNO, has not met expectations and will cease operations at the end of the year, the company said. Disney will no longer sell handsets, effective immediately.

Disney had hoped that the company’s strong brand-awareness among parents and consumers’ desire for family- and Disney-friendly content — including ringtones and video –would provide enough of a foundation for the service. Disney also offered a feature that allowed parents to track the location of their children.

But branding ironically proved to be an obstacle, as consumers seemed reluctant to sign on for a service from a company it did not associate with telephone service.

MVNOs are an entire mobile network, which puts non-telcos into the mobile game by allowing them to launch service via leased spectrum space from a provider (in this case, Sprint).

Disney late last year had closed down its high-profile ESPN service and began licensing content to other providers; it’s likely it will license at least some of its features and services in this instance, as well.