Disney explored the MVNO concept for years
, convinced that given the opportunity, people would rush out to buy Disney-branded mobile phone service. What's amazing is that in all that time, the company never bothered to figure out how to actually make a branded mobile phone service compelling. It started an MVNO based on ESPN, which failed spectacularly
, despite dumping millions of dollars into it. You would think that, having failed once, the company would be careful not to make the same mistakes -- but apparently not. When Disney launched
its Disney-branded mobile phone service, it seemed perfectly designed as something no kid would want to use. So, it came as little surprise that Disney seemed to follow the identical path
of other failed MVNOs: launch hype, quick price cuts, desperate flailing, closure. We noted Disney Mobile was following that exact pattern nearly a year ago (up to the price cut point), but the service continued to hang on... though, it seemed pretty clear it was in trouble. Back in April it tried to paint a rosy picture of its users with a bunch of stats
, but glaringly left out how many subscribers there were.
Given all of that, it came as little surprise that Disney completed the trek of the failed MVNO, officially shutting down the service
after a year and a half. Apparently, the massive failure with ESPN Mobile didn't lead to any additional insight into how to sell mobile phone service. Given the variety of high profile MVNO failures in the US lately, can we finally put to rest the concept that was popular a few years ago that every brand would have its own mobile service? People don't want to buy mobile phone service from an entertainment company -- especially when it's ultra expensive and has little in the way of features that are actually useful. If entertainment brands want to go mobile, they should create mobile apps that can work on a variety of services, rather than wishfully hoping that people will completely switch over to a branded service.