Disney CFO Thomas Staggs didn’t quite write the Disney Mobile “virtual” wireless carrier obit today, but his message was clear: it’s sucking wind. At the Merrill conference in Marina del Rey, Staggs said Disney has seen “some challenges” distributing its family-oriented MVNO, and the company is “in the process of evaluating where we sit.” Staggs said the service has received “strong response” from parents, but that the MVNO business needs scale to be successful (which it lacks). He said it would be too early to project the MVNO’s losses in 2008: the company will analyse the MVNO during its budget process and “decide just what our plan is going forward.”
We remain highly sceptical that any of the big, flashy MVNOs will survive (with the possible exception of Virgin, which is preparing an IPO). Disney shuttered its Mobile ESPN venture last fall after just months of operation. Bankrupt Amp’d Mobile went belly-up in July. And Helio is burning cash, to the ire of its investors, Internet service provider EarthLink and Korean wireless giant SK Telecom.