Two high-profile MVNOs from Virgin Mobile and Disney have launched in Asia. Virgin Mobile has teamed with India’s Tata Teleservices to launch the country’s first MVNO targeted at the youth market. According to Virgin, there are 400 million Indians aged 15-30 years and the segment is expected to add 50 million new subscribers over the next three years, creating a market worth INR350 billlion. Virgin expects to capture 5 million subscribers within three years of launch by offering services in more than 1,000 Indian cities. The move is Virgin Mobile’s seventh launch globally. India is the world’s fastest-growing mobile services market. According to Wireless Intelligence, Virgin’s partner, Tata, is the fifth largest operator in India.
Meanwhile Disney on Saturday launched Japan’s first MVNO in partnership with Softbank. Walt Disney Japan released three mobile phones, all manufactured by Sharp and featuring an application that allows users to directly access Disney websites. Softbank is Japan’s third largest, and fastest growing, mobile operator. In January Mobile Business Briefing reported that Disney is confident of Japanese success despite the brand’s previous mobile failures. Last year the company hung up on an MVNO in the US that used Sprint Nextel’s network, and in 2006 discontinued a similar service based on its ESPN Sports television network. At the time Duncan Orrell-Jones, VP of Walt Disney Internet Group Asia Pacific, said the failure of its US operation was mainly due to its business model, where the company “did everything on our own.” He added that the MVNO model with Softbank is a “much more powerful model” that gives Disney “collaboration across everything from handsets to service to distribution.” A Walt Disney Japan official today reiterated the company’s optimism, stating that Disney content has a strong following in Japan.