Global Economics

The Mobile World of Disney


China's cell phone users can now download Disney games, ringtones, and other content that has been "tailor-made"for the mobile platform

According to Nobert Chang, China vice president and general manager of mobile operations at Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG), the company will offer a range of Disney content including animated wallpaper, ringtones, e-comics, movie trailers and games, that has been tailor-made for the mobile platform. WDIG is the technology arm of The Walt Disney Company.

Officially launched Thursday at the ChinaJoy digital entertainment and games conference, running in Shanghai this week from Jul. 12 to Jul. 15, WDIG's new mobile services can now be accessed at a centralized Web site via a general packet radio service (GPRS)-enabled phone, Chang said in a phone interview.

The Beijing-based executive added that support will be extended to 3G users in the future when the network is available in China.

Mobile users will be able to access a free content section--updated weekly with games, icons, wallpapers and ringtones--as well as paid content through their operator's network and WDIG's local distribution partner 5wan.

Chang said: "We've optimized the content to fit nearly all the different handsets in China, including some PDA phones. We'll auto-detect the handset and let users know if it's a model we support.

"So it's not just about taking content from our Web site to the mobile...it's about offering content that's tailored to the mobile platform. We spent a lot of time on the backend to ensure our users' experience is optimized," he added.

This week's announcement, he said, also marks a "significant investment" from the Disney group to grow its presence in China.

"We've launched services before on the mobile platform in China, but this time, we're making a bigger commitment in terms of investment and breadth of products we're now bringing to the market," Chang said, but declined to give figures about the investment.

"Previously, we didn't have a production team in China [but] we believe content should be localized... We now have a team of about 100 people working on localizing content for the China market," he said.

For instance, his team developed a mobile game based on Disney's first non-Hollywood movie Secret of the Magic Gourd, which was released in China.

Mobile users will have to visit the Disney site to download the content they want, but Chang said the company is exploring ways to allow information or services to be "pushed" through SMS (short messaging services).

The WDIG has mobile content distribution agreements with 46 carriers and resellers in 15 markets across the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, India, Malaysia and the Philippines. This network reaches out to over 865 million mobile consumers, according to WDIG.

In November 2005, the company launched its first Disney-branded mobile phone in China, where there are currently 400 million mobile phone subscribers. This number is projected to reach 700 million mobile subscribers, fuelling a mobile value-added service market that will be worth US$2.5 billion by 2010. Revamped in 2006, Disney's localized Web site in China has 75 million registered users.

Provided by ZDNet Asia—Where Technology Means Business

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