Blog Post

More Android Forking? Disney Teams Up With Japan’s Docomo For 2 New Phones

Disney (NYSE: DIS) Mobile, the short-lived U.S. MVNO that found a new lease of life in Japan through a Softbank JV in 2008, has now launched two new Android handsets in partnership with NTT Docomo, the country’s biggest carrier.

Docomo says The two devices, available only in Japan, are the first to kick off a new phase for Disney Mobile, as it partners with Docomo on a “Disney Mobile on docomo” venture.

But it appears that Disney Mobile will also continue to work with Softbank: the two announced their own two Android devices in October 2011.

In both the cases of the Softbank and docomo devices, it looks like Disney Mobile has gone down the forked OS route, as so many other device makers in Asia have before it.

In the two new devices launched today, gone is the Android Market, which has been replaced by Docomo’s own dmarket. Mickey and other Disney iconography figures strongly throughout, from the clock and other icons on the homescreen to prioritized links through to Disney mobile content. The services also put Docomo’s mobile payment service, Osaifu-Keitai, front and center.

The content element is particularly eye-catching part of this deal: Docomo says that those who take the devices will get free access to movie services, live wallpapers, puzzles, games and other Disney entertainment. By “free” that means the content itself comes without a charge; users still have to pay for data usage.

Still, you do have to wonder if we will see more brands trying to do something like this in the future as the cost of making customised smartphones becomes even cheaper.

Other benefits include offers for Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, both of which are already sponsored by Docomo.

Given how consumer-friendly this all looks, it’s surprising that Docomo is launching the devices with pretty clunky names. One device, the F-08D, will go on sale February 17; the equally-catchy P-05D will debut in March. Perhaps those names will change to different brands by the time their debuts roll around.