Disney Does Electronics
By Brent Lang
Finally, consumers will be able to
have cordless phones sporting images of Mickey Mouse or a two-way radio
featuring the unmistakable voice of Buzz Lightyear.
The introduction of a series of kid-friendly wireless communications devices
from The Walt Disney Co. (nyse: DIS - news - people ) and Motorala (nyse: MOT -
news - people ) marks the first tentative steps by Disney toward what may well
become a veritable blitzkrieg on the consumer electronics arena. In most cases,
the products will be designed by the Silicon Valley integrated design firm, Frog
Design, and co-branded by Disney and various other electronics manufacturers.
You won't be purchasing the new cordless telephone featured in Disney's initial
products launch because of any technological breakthrough, however. Rather, the
selling point seems to be a series of ring tones inspired by Disney characters.
The pastel cordless phone that Disney and Motorola are offering has purportedly
been inspired by popular princesses from the Disney animated canon. In keeping
with this theme, the phone's ring tones feature characters' voices and songs
like "Under the Sea."
An almost identical red and yellow cordless is presumably intended to appeal to
young boys and draws its inspiration from iconic characters like Mickey Mouse.
This phone's ring tones include snippets of "The Mickey Mouse Club March" and
"It's a Small World (After All)."
Both phones offer standard features like visual call-waiting, a ten-number
SpeedDial memory and a phone company voice-mail indicator. One particular
feature that is sure to delight kids and drive parents batty is a base that uses
popular Disney characters to "page" misplaced handsets.
Aside from cordless phones, Disney seems to have finally noticed that all the
families visiting its theme parks are carrying two-way radios. For the most
part, those radios have been Motorola-made family radio service handsets that
let anyone using them stay in touch within a two-mile radius. The deal with
Motorola includes a series of Disney-themed FRS radios.
The radios have a similar design to the cordless phones: one is a pastel-colored
Princess radio, while the other is a red- and yellow-colored Classic radio. In
addition to these two designs, the folks at Motorola, Frog and Disney have
crafted a red, white and green "adventure two-way radio," which features the
voices of such Disney/Pixar (nasdaq: PIXR - news - people ) heroes as Buzz
Lightyear uttering catchphrases like "Come in, Star Command."
With their target audience of children ages six to 12 in mind, the phones and
the radios have been specifically designed to fit comfortably into small hands.
Both the phones and radios are priced at about $60 and will arrive in stores
just in time for the Christmas season.
One thing's for certain: For families with small children, this Christmas won't
be the last time that their children clamor for Disney-inspired electronic
gadgets. Disney's assault on the world of electronics will eventually include
everything from clock radios to DVD players, with a second line of products
planned for launch in the spring of 2003.