Mickey Gets the Call for Euro Phone Content

Mickey, Donald and the rest of the Disney gang will be coming to an Orange smartphone in the near future.

British phone maker Orange SA Thursday signed a distribution and content deal with Walt Disney Internet Group to put classic and contemporary Disney characters on its mobile phones.

The service will be available to Orange customers in the U.K., as well as in Belgium (Mobistar) and Portugal (Optimus) over the company’s GSM1800 services.

The European phone giant said it will offer logos, ring tones, wallpaper screens, and games for sale. The content will be based on Disney’s line-up of classic characters, as well as on characters from modern Disney classics such as “Beauty & the Beast” and “The Lion King” and recent blockbusters such as “Monsters Inc.” and “Lilo & Stitch.”

Customers will also be able to access entertainment information on Disney’s latest releases, such as reviews, interviews with the voice actors, and behind-the-scenes looks.

Execs with Orange say the announcement with Disney is the first plank of a wider entertainment selection that the company intends to offer its customers. Over the next few months Orange says it will be announcing even more content deals. Neither company would say if that would include other Disney properties like ESPN or ABC.

“Orange and Disney have been working closely together to develop this service for Orange customers,” Orange executive vice-president Richard Brennan said in a statement. “Together, we’ve married the best of mobile technology with Disney’s imagination and classic cartoon characters.”

With increased interest in content, the smartphone space is finally showing signs of life, according to Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC.

A survey published Wednesday said in the first quarter of 2003, the worldwide smartphone market grew 438.3 percent over the year-ago quarter and 37.6 percent from the previous quarter to 1.76 million units.

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