Disney Mobile Turns to Japan

softbank.JPGDisney plans to end its U.S. mobile phone service in December and to compensate will turn to the Japanese market early next year. The company is hoping that the demand for its online content will be able to compete in the world’s biggest market of third-generation phones. Disney will use local mobile phone carrier Softbank Corp’s network. The two companies have plans to develop new mobile phones and content for Japan’s competitive market.

Softbank, which is new to Japan, has been gaining market share with its low-cost price plans. Softbank hopes that a partnership with Disney will induce subscribers to use their phones for more downloads, and switch to more expensive handsets and calling plans.

Michito Kimura, a market analyst at the research firm of IDC Japan, has doubts about the new partnership. Disney phones might appeal to hard-core Disney fans, children and adolescents; they are unlikely to win more than 100,000 to 200,000 subscribers out of a market of 100 million mobile phone users.

“Softbank is eyeing long-term growth from this partnership, and the question is if Disney will stick it through,” Kimura said. “You need to constantly come up with new and quality content to keep users interested.”