RealTime IT News

Disney Has High Hopes For Go Network In Asia

Ker Gibbs, formerly managing director of Claris/Asia, and the soon-to-be announced director of Asia/Pacific for Infoseek Corp.'s Go Network, sees long term benefits in the region.

As of its Jan. 12 launch, the Go Network, a new portal/gateway offering "global registration" and "follow me tabs" has already registered 8 million users worldwide, representing the combined users of the companies ESPN, Infoseek, Disney, and ABC sites.

"It's not AOL, it's not Yahoo!, but it goes towards our reach, and Disney did a great job of promoting it," said Gibbs. "Michael Eisner has said some very kind words about the way we've executed so I think there are reasons to be optimistic."

While not the size of those Internet heavyweights yet, Gibbs is confident about the "personalization" aspects of the Go Network.

"What I think is unique is the whole personalization of it," he said. "You come in and register and then your registration will follow you around in the site and keep track of who you are, your age, interests, where you live, so all the searches and all the information we present you is relevant at all times."

"That's really key to the new product," he emphasized. "As far as we know this is new, what we call "global registration." Of course you have customization with My Yahoo and other customized interfaces, and we have that too, but as far as having the "follow me tabs" that is unique."

Along with this, Disney's influence, which owns 43 percent of the "Go Network" has not gone unnoticed.

"Disney as a marketing entity is stupendous. They touch, when you add theme parks, cruise ships, movies and their animation, 500 million customers a day. That's a huge number, so we're working with them and that will be a promotional element that we think is going to be incredible powerful."

Disney's promotional power is not only very evident in the United States but also in Japan, where Tokyo Disneyland ranks as one of Disney's most successful theme parks.

"Japan is a really important market for us," Gibbs acknowledged. "We're looking at what to do next in this market, and there is certainly a big opportunity with Disney--as big as it is in Japan--and we fully intend to take advantage of that."

"We see it as a huge market," he added. "It's very important."

However, there are still concerns about Japan's current economic health.

"We have to take really close consideration of that for planning and revenue projections and of course the yen is something we have to keep a close eye on," he said.

"But are we going to let this hold us back? Absolutely not. This is clearly a long term play."

Infoseek Corp. is working in conjunction with Japan-based partners, Digital Garage.