Kara Swisher

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Disney Unveils New Home Page With Entertainment Focus

The Walt Disney Company will finally be unveiling a newly refurbished Disney.com site — aimed at delivering a robust entertainment experience — which the digital division of the company has been working on for a year.

In an interview Friday, Disney Interactive co-President James Pitaro said that the new site has been built from the “ground up,” keeping in mind delivery to multiple devices, especially increasingly popular tablets and smartphones.

Making such a dramatic shift to what he called the “digital gateway to Disney” is not without risk, he said.

“The new Disney.com is a much cleaner and more elegant site and a significant change from the legacy site, and any time you make material changes to a Web experience that has a large audience, you have potential to unsettle some users,” said Pitaro, who came to Disney from Yahoo in late 2010. “That said, we take a lot of pride in the new entertainment experience we’ve created and are confident that the multi-platform site will both further engage our current Guests and bring in new ones.”

The rollout began with a video beta site appearing in May.

Pitaro said the load time on the site had been drastically improved, along with the new minimalist design, which “puts Guests first.”

(“Guests” is how Disney refers to its customers, wherever they are.)

Instead of positioning the site as the marketing vehicle it has been in the past, Pitaro said the new Web and mobile destination is much more of the entertainment experience throughout.

That has meant getting fresh content from a wide range of Disney units, from its high-profile theme parks to its television channel to its movie studio. Content from its ABC and ESPN divisions are not part of the site, but both Marvel and Pixar are included.

The new site does not mean Disney’s online efforts will be less available outside the site. The company has a large-scale relationship with Google’s YouTube, for example, as well as being partial owner of the Hulu premium video site.

“We still need to take Disney where our Guests are,” said Pitaro.

Disney’s efforts online in the past have been decidedly mixed — from its doomed Go.com portal in Web 1.0 to its highly successful Club Penguin acquisition many years later.

Thus, said Pitaro, what is now appearing today on Disney.com — a new front page, movie and music pages — is still a work in process, with more changes coming.

Here are some screenshots of the new look:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work