Dell and NetObjects make small business play

Luckily for struggling software maker NetObjects Inc., large computer manufactures carry a big stick not only when it comes to distributing PCs, but also in promoting the software that runs on them. Dell Computer Corp. said Monday it plans to pre-install NetObject’s software for building Web sites on some Dell desktops and notebooks – an announcement that helped shares of NetObjects skyrocket during the day’s trading.

Dell said it will pre-install NetObjects software which helps users build, publish and promote their own Web sites under the co-branded product title NetObjects Fusion Dell Edition. Users purchasing either Dell Dimension desktops or Inspirion notebooks will find the icon to the software already on their machine at no extra cost, the companies said in a statement.

Redwood City, Calif.-based NetObjects sells most of its applications and services to small and medium-sized businesses trying to establish a presence on the Internet. The co-branded product with Dell gives users access to 200 template styles for building Web sites, and allows users to create their own site from scratch. The applications do not require knowledge of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) but do make HTML code available for more advanced users.

Dell plans to tie in the Web design functions with its DellHost Web hosting service. Dell claims its hosting service attracted 10,000 customers in its first eight months of operation by providing access to Dell servers and storage along with Web site design services.

Monday’s agreement has both sides of the bargain attempting to attract small and medium sized businesses. Investors, however, also seemed excited by the news, as shares of NetObjects charged higher throughout the day.

NetObjects gained a giant 62.96 percent on the day to close at US$3.43 per share. The company’s stock has plummeted since a high in March of almost $46 per share.

IBM Corp. – one of Dell’s major competitors in the PC space – owns nearly 45 per cent of NetObjects and currently has the company’s software pre-installed on some of its machines.

Dell, in Round Rock, Tex., can be reached at NetObjects, with headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., can be contacted at