1&1 Adds Up Apps, Years and Major Changes
Most small and medium-sized businesses don’t want to know how their digital initiatives work, they just want more customers.
That was the message from new 1&1 CEO of Hosting Robert Hoffmann at their 10th U.S. Anniversary media event in Overland Park, Kan. (1&1 also celebrated 25 years internationally.) The occasion hosted a dozen-plus industry journalists who were exclusively pre-briefed on 1&1’s major move from a Web host and infrastructure company to a comprehensive eBusiness provider. This strategic change can be seen in its new apps, tools, technology and packages offerings.
An App for That
Perhaps the most interesting and appealing news centers around 1&1’s new drag-and-drop App store where SMBs will find 40 of the most popular applications featuring plug-ins and one-click installation. Companies can expect many more to be added as the App center matures and as developers take advantage of the platform. As Web professionals know, however, apps and plugins should not be integrated and then abandoned, as there are key security and performance concerns. 1&1 recognized this with their "Free" and "Safe" mode options for the App Center.
In the Free mode, 1&1 will keep companies informed regarding necessary updates and security patches, so they can implement the apps themselves. It should be noted, the Free mode isn’t a synonym of “complimentary,” but rather the freedom for developers to code plug-ins at any time. On the other hand, Safe mode is when 1&1 manages the apps for a company, takes care of updates and security patches and more. Developers and SMBs always have the option of switching to Free mode to Safe mode and vice versa. The 1&1 Web app portal will also feature HTML code for more than 100 popular widgets.
With 1&1 reporting that 50 percent of small businesses worldwide don’t have a website yet and 75 percent of them believing they cannot create high-quality websites on their own, it’s unsurprising that “going mobile” is a big challenge for them as well. Recognizing this need, 1&1 also announced its new Mobile Website Builder, which allows customers to create a new website or convert an existing design into a new mobile compatible version. This tool is free with the 1&1 Unlimited and Advanced packages, while other customers can also add the feature to their package.
At the media event, 1&1 announced its new flexible hosting packages to fit the needs of SMBs. It’s now offering one-month payment options. Companies don’t have to commit for more than one month, but they can save with a longer pre-paid plan. In the same vein, SMBs can upgrade or downgrade their hosting packages once a month with no extra cost. The advantage of this is that they don’t have to pay for what they don’t need.
In 2011, at the same media event, 1&1 announced its MyWebsite product that helps SMBs create a professional Web presence. Two years later, 1&1 continues to evolve the product based on SMB needs, which includes its image library of more than 25,000 images. 1&1 Public Relations Manager Kelly Meenaghan said that oftentimes SMBs don’t know where to turn to gather images for their digital properties, which results in them taking images straight from Google, which is often illegal. The alternative, of course, is subscribing to a service like Shutterstock, which can become costly depending on the number of images needed. Companies can avoid legal issues and fees with the 1&1 image library. Just as a note of interest, Meenaghan also mentioned 1&1’s opposition to calling its MyWebsite product a template, as “there are so many options that it’s truly customizable.”
The 1&1 Anniversary Media Event provided a lot of information about not only the direction of the company, but also its commitment to catering to small and medium-sized businesses. Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of news coming out of Europe’s leading Web host as it looks to get the dollars of companies worldwide who see the need to move from traditional, say Yellow Book campaigns, to digital products. 1&1’s aggressive growth plans will definitely include products that omit the “how it works” of digital initiatives but answer SMB’s biggest question, “How do I get more customers?”