Another day, another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is in trouble. It looks like Disney is now evaluating whether to keep its Disney Mobile effort going. The venture, using another operator’s network to market cell phone service to families with kids, has, apparently, failed to attract as many users as the company hoped.
Frankly, I am not surprised. Nowadays, lots of carriers offer most of the features with which Disney was hoping to differentiate itself from other wireless service providers. Take tracking software, allowing parents to see geographic location of their kid’s cell phone. Sprint offers this, too. Other carriers, such as Leap and Metro PCS, offer lower prices.
Most of Disney’s handsets look pretty standard — no different from other companies’. One exception is the company’s Steamboat Willie phone, which looks adorable. I wish Disney had introduced more unique phones like that. I wish it had dipped into its vast cartoon vault more often.
The only way an MVNO can attract a loyal user base is by offering something others don’t. But too many MVNOs have simply chosen to repackage their network providers’ offerings. Clearly, that isn’t working.
An update (Sept. 27): Disney Mobile just shut down.