I admit it, I’m a closet Disney fan and am delighted that I have an excuse this summer to visit Disneyworld (I’m speaking at a conference in Orlando). Having said that, though, I also have found Disney to be going through a real dry spell with innovations and truly family-friendly products and services. Sure they’ve expanded the theme parks, but just about all the expansion has been thrill rides like Kilimanjaro that are aimed much more squarely at teens and younger adults than at families with wee ones.
But still, there’s Mickey Mouse and the many additional cultural icons that Walt Disney and his team have given us over the years, however much crass capitalists like Michael Eisner later tightened the thumbscrews and changed things (to, I admit, be more profitable and a better run business, but somehow the fun, the heart, the caring seems to have been lost along the way).
Anyway, I’m really delighted to see that Disney is jumping into the world of cell phones and mobile telephony with its upcoming launch of Disney Mobile, and the more I read about it, the more it seems like just what families need to let their children have the connectivity of cellphones while also having limits and controls.
Let me just quote from Disney’s latest press release on the service:
“Disney Mobile is the first national wireless phone service built to meet the unique communication needs of today’s family. Launching summer 2006, Disney Mobile will provide wireless voice and data services and custom handsets. In addition, Disney Mobile will offer a package of features and applications tailored to meet the unique communication needs of families.
“The Family Center, a suite of four exclusive services, will enable parents to directly manage their familyâs wireless experience, including controlling when and how often kids use their phone; locating kidsâ handsets using GPS technology; protecting their kids from unwanted calls and messages and sending priority text messages to all Disney Mobile family plan members simultaneously. Disney Mobile will offer an array of content that parents trust and kids enjoy drawn from the rich entertainment heritage of Disney.”
Our kids don’t have cellphones yet, though it’s not from a lack of them asking for their own personal mobile communications devices / toys. I get phones to test from companies like Motorola too, which gives them a sense of the state of the art in mobile gadgets, so I’m sure when the time comes (when they’re 10? 12? 14?) we’ll have a family cellphone plan.
That’s why Disney Mobile sounds so cool, with its ability to configure the phones to only work on certain hours of the day, to constrain them to only dial certain numbers, and to even utilize the GPS system built into most modern cell phones to locate the phone (and, presumably, the kid) at any time during the day.
What do you think? Would you buy a Disney Mobile phone for your children and if you did, would you utilize all of its limits and controls to manage their mobile interaction?
By the way, the “Disney Mobile” image above is from a prototype phone for the Disney Mobile network from the boring Korean company Pantech.