Computer giant Dell launched DellHost on Feb. 22 and greatly enhanced its features in May, retooling for small and medium-sized businesses.
With the new offerings, DellHost hopes to build beyond the 2,000 customers from its initial growth spurt, said Tim Mattox, general manager of Dell Hosting Group.
The biggest benefactor may not be Dell customers but NetObjects, which has been fighting off the advances of competing product Microsoft FrontPage. Microsoft's bundling of FrontPage with Windows NT server and some versions of Office 2000 has made it an increasingly tough competitor.
"We've been working a long time on this," said NetObjects chief executive Samir Arora. "This is probably the most significant deal NetObjects has ever done."
Next month, Dell will begin offering a customized version of the NetObjects Fusion 5 Web page-authoring and site management suite, dubbed Dell Fusion E-Services Edition.
"Originally we started with Trellix but view NetObjects as an important addition for our DellHost customers," Mattox said.
Dell hosting customers will get the full version of the product, but with one caveat: It will only publish Web sites to DellHost. Another difference between the E-Services Edition and standard NetObjects is a built-in browser that creates an AOL-like experience.
"When you launch NetObjects Fusion, you not only have desktop software, but you have an online client like AOL," Arora said. "Our goal is to be like AOL in that we're carpet-bombing NetObjects Fusion but with our partners, so that NetObjects is not the brand. Dell is the band."
Besides the offering of Fusion, DellHost also will introduce a budget hosting plan. Under the new plan, prospective customers could get basic shared Web hosting for about $14.95 a month. Dell's regularly priced plan goes for $17.95 a month, which is discounted 10 percent when paid annually.
The lower-cost offering will come with fewer features than the regular option, but Dell would not disclose the changes other than to say that only email technical support would be available with the plan.
DellHost, like its competitors, offers two types of hosting: shared and dedicated. Shared hosting puts more than one Web site on a server and costs considerably less than does dedicated hosting, which devotes an entire server to one site.
Dedicated hosting is available using either Linux or Windows 2000.
"Our customers tend to split about evenly between the two, even though we can charge less for the Linux hosting because we don't have the cost of the operating system," Mattox said.
The DellHost changes follow Dell's announcement on Tuesday of new Web-based services, also for small businesses.