The $20 billion giant will release 20 CD-ROM youth entertainment and children's titles under the GTE Entertainment label.
"We're trying to introduce a new brand as we enter a rather competitive marketplace," said Richard Robinson, president of GTE Interactive Media, founded in January 1990 and operating until recently as Imagitrek. While the division won't have a booth at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, it has reserved a meeting room to court retailers.
The new label will offer three product lines: Street Sports and Action Arcade for boys and Interactive Toys for children 3 to 6 years old.
The first GTE Entertainment titles will be out in August, with the rest hitting shelves by early 1995.
GTE Interactive, based in Carlsbad, Calif., expects to advertise in game, lifestyle and parenting magazines and plans a co-op program with dealers. An agency search for the under-$10 million account will start after CES.
GTE joins other local phone carriers, including Pacific Bell Corp. and Bell Atlantic Corp., moving into software.
"All the Hollywood companies and every one of the Baby Bells has something called new media or interactive services," said Ken Wasch, executive director of the Software Publishers Association.
"They're recognizing that the PC is becoming the window toward a wide range of information services and if they expect to be players in information services, they have to get PC owners thinking of them as being in that business," he said.
For GTE, the world's fourth largest publicly owned phone company and the biggest U.S. local phone carrier, marketing software gets around a ban on telephone companies providing programming in areas where they provide phone service.
Kent B. Foster, GTE vice chairman, underlines the importance of interactive services to the company: "Multimedia voice, video and data applications-for both wireline and wireless services-are the future of GTE," said Mr. Foster.