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Rocky & Bullwinkle headed for mobile phones

Mobile-gaming company inks a deal to introduce ring tones and games based on the popular 1960s cartoon. Photo: Famous squirrel, moose go wireless

The company that sells vintage Atari games for cell phones is planning to introduce another American pop-culture classic to the cell phone-savvy: Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Britain-based iFone has inked a deal with Bullwinkle Studios to develop ring tones, games and screen graphics for mobile phones, the companies said this week. The companies' plans call for wireless content that's based on the flying squirrel and his moose sidekick, villains Boris and Natasha, Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right, as well as Sherman and Peabody.

iFone is banking on the deal to help it attract a bigger following in North America, where it has already introduced "Monopoly" and "Clue" for mobile phones. The company also has developed mobile-phone versions of early Atari video games "Asteroids" and "Pong," and distributes them through deals with wireless-services companies such as Sprint, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Verizon Wireless.

Other animation houses plan to introduce cell phone entertainment based on popular characters. In April, Warner Bros. and Vodafone inked a deal to create screen savers and games based on the entertainment giant's movies and TV series, including "Looney Tunes," "Harry Potter," "Friends" and "The Matrix." Disney has launched a mobile-entertainment division that serves up games and graphics with Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, The Incredibles and other characters.

Mobile entertainment is a booming business, market researchers say. Consumers in the United States will spend roughly $500 million on games, graphics, news alerts, songs and ring tones for phones this year, up from $200 million last year, according to wireless-technology research firm Zelos Group. Worldwide, wireless-service companies racked up $2.3 billion in ring tone sales alone last year, The Yankee Group recently reported.

Although prices vary, screen savers and ring tones typically range from $1 to $2, while games can cost up to $6. iFone will make the digital Rocky & Bullwinkle products available within the next few months and is still negotiating prices, a Bullwinkle Studios representative said.

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