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Disney Mobile not dead in Japan — not even close

In sports, it’s common to see a good player struggle and suggest that he or she needs a change of scenery to get back on track. Typically, we do not think of such a solution in the telecommunications sector, but one failed U.S. MVNO might change that. Disney Mobile, which went dark at the end of 2007, has found success with a new MVNO venture in Japan. They’ve partnered with SoftBank, a telecom conglomerate, and have each brought something different to the table. The result is a success unlike anything they saw in America. The craziest part: women in their 20s and 30s, and not children, are filling the bulk of orders.

Serkan Toto of Tech Crunch brings up an interesting point:

In Japan, Disney strategically about-faced by pursuing an OEM-like strategy: They leave back-end operations (distribution, price planning, sales, billing, etc.) to their partner and focus on bringing content, design know-how and brand value into the partnership.

This was a prominent topic at the Prepaid Press Expo, particularly in the session I moderated on the future of MVNOs. Both Paris Holt of telSPACE and Daniel Csoka of AKOS Technology Corporation mentioned the separation of content and back-end functions being key to the future success of MVNOs. Neat that we’re seeing a story about just that.

This also touches on the MVNO 2.0 concept we discussed earlier this month. Disney is trying something totally different, not only with the content/billing strategy, but with their target audience of women in their 20s and 30s. Jason Ankeny of Fierce Mobile Content asked back in January if Disney was “too Goofy to succeed” in Japan. Looks like Disney’s surprising us all.