One would think Disney Mobile would be a perfect cellular fit for a cable industry that’s sorely lacking in that space. After all, the Disney Channel is a cable lineup staple, so why shouldn’t a Disney phone be part of the cable service as well?

Mainly because that’s not what Disney wants – and Disney’s paying the bill to Sprint Nextel for the mobile minutes it uses as an MVNO. It may be an opportunity lost – or potentially found – as Disney moves more into Web and local content on the service.

"iPod trained a lot of kids on how to get content on the phone in a new way," said George Grobar, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Mobile during a conversation at the recent CTIA Wireless Show in Orlando. "Kids love the form factor; it’s an adult form factor."

As part of that form factor, Disney is appealing to an older audience – moms – with location capabilities and call management that ranges from who can talk on the phone to how much talking and when. Now, the provider wants to add a local content element to make it a "well-lit coffeehouse for moms to gather." Calling all moms Moms, Grobar said, represent about two-thirds of the service’s user base, so Disney is working on applications specifically designed for this segment, including a calendar program and, of course, the inevitable link back to the home computer base.

"We have to really get this positioning out there in the marketplace," he said. "We have to have the ability to appeal broadly to the segment and continue to give them things that they like to do."

For now, those things don’t include linking to cable TV – at not least in any sense broader than Disney-generated content. – Jim Barthold

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