PC makers are hoping corporate customers start thinking outside their boxes when it comes to selecting hosting and service providers.
Dell Computer Corp. and Gateway Inc. last week announced separate hosting services for small and midsize business customers.
Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, launched Dellhost.com, through which it is offering Web hosting as well as site design and development tools, said Tim Mattox, vice president and general manager at Dell's services division.
Dell has teamed up with Interliant Inc., of Purchase, N.Y. Interliant will provide network and data center services for the hosted applications. Pricing starts at US$17.95 per month for shared hosting and $299 per month for dedicated hosting on a separate server.
Gateway, of San Diego, plans to offer Web hosting and other services through a US$25 million investment in eSoft Inc., of Broomfield, Colo. eSoft specializes in Linux software. As part of the services, which will be available in the second quarter. Gateway also plans to offer virtual private networks and network management. Prices are not yet set.
Both companies are betting that small and midsize customers have neither the money nor the IT talent to roll out an effective Web presence on their own.
International Data Corp., of Framingham, Mass., says only 26 percent of small businesses in the United States have their own Web sites.
Other hardware vendors, such as Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, are already deep into their hosting strategies. For Dell, the announcement is a bit late, but it's still significant because of Dell's online direct channel and its brand name, said IDC analyst Roger Kay.
Dell can take its example of "making the Web the core of your business" and apply it to hosted customers, Kay said.
Dell and Gateway also plan to increase their non-PC revenues. Gateway has set a goal of 40 percent non-PC income by the end of the fourth quarter, compared with 20 percent last year, said Keith Karlsen, director of business development at Gateway Business.
Karlsen said one of the offerings under development at Gateway is Smart DSL, which will help customers either start or upgrade to digital subscriber line Internet access.