Google has added another service to its portfolio of online offerings with the launch this week of Page Creator, a free tool for creating personal Web sites.
Over the past several years, Google has rolled out several online tools, but Page Creator represents the company's first foray into the world of Web hosting.
"Web publishing can be complicated, expensive, and unsatisfying," Google said in a statement. "Google Page Creator has been designed with ease of use in mind."
No Code Needed
The new tool gives users the ability to create and edit Web pages "just as they appear online." Users do not need any knowledge of HTML or any other computer language to use Page Creator.
The do-it-yourself Web pages will be hosted by Google for free, with each user able to store up to 100 MB of information and images. However, a Gmail account is required before users will be able to log in and create pages.
Using a simple template with a heading, subhead, and body, do-it-yourselfers will have a choice of 41 background styles. Page Creator also includes tools to help users work with links, images, three different kinds of headings, and six different fonts.
Once the site has been completed and published, it is available online almost immediately. Google has included a one-click button to help users alert friends about their new sites.
The release of Page Creator follows the launch earlier this month of a more personalized version of Gmail, which now gives users the ability to customize their Gmail accounts with their own domain names.
Page Creator could represent Google's first competitive response to certain functions included in Microsoft's Office Live, a suite of online applications that provide small businesses with an online presence.
A Google spokesperson indicated that, rather than target a particular market, the Page Creator technology was designed with a wide spectrum of users in mind, particularly those who do not have the knowledge, time, or money to invest in site-creation tools and services.
While Page Creator technically is not a small-business tool as of yet, Frost & Sullivan analyst Mukul Krishna suggested that, with Microsoft and Yahoo already in the Web-hosting business, Google cannot afford to ignore the opportunity to build loyalty among small businesses looking for a Web presence.
As small businesses grow, said Krishna, they could hang on to their Google sites. "It is a good market-penetration strategy," he said.
Google has received an overwhelming response to the beta release of Page Creator and has stopped accepting new users for the time being, but anticipates that it will reopen registration for the service next week.