Tinker Bell on a phone near you

For socializers too young to drive, mobile phones are lifelines, and Disney has fresh plans to capitalize on that fact. Reporting on this, Forbes cites Multimedia Intelligence figures showing that "the US had more than 16 million teen mobile subscribers in 2007, up 12% from 2006." Forbes adds that Walt Disney Internet Group estimates that more than half of US 10-year-olds own phones, and Disney wants to "'own' those mobile customers." Last year Disney launched its own site for phone screens. Now it plans to sync that mobile site with its Web sites and next month debuts "a registration system that will allow users to access their Disney.com profiles automatically via their cell phones. A digital storefront – a one-stop online market for purchasing Disney games, ringtones and wallpapers – will follow," Forbes reports. (Parents, these purchases will bear added to the family cellphone service bill.) Other plans: phone-to-phone (another kind of P2P) instant messaging with a profanity filter, a downloadable "Fairy Friend" aimed at girls who like caring for a Tamagotchi-like Tinker Bell; a Pirates of the Caribbean downloadable mobile game in which players can earn virtual coins they can spend at Disney.com; and GPS capabilities by which users can detect friends at Hannah Montana concerts and "automatically send them exclusive content, such as a new song" (let's hope they contact only real-life friends at concerts!). Forbes doesn't mention financial and other parental controls that could help keep costs and contacts under control. Meanwhile, CNET reports that "Disney wants to socialize with parents, too."


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