Xtra users flock to free Web page service

A thousand Xtra subscribers flocked to set up their own personal Web pages last weekend, after the ISP announced its new service in its weekly customer email. The free service, which uses a publishing engine developed by the Australia company Harvest Road, has now picked up more than 1600 users, even though Xtra only sees its promotion so far as a 'soft launch' to establish the market.

A thousand Xtra subscribers flocked to set up their own personal Web pages last weekend, after the ISP announced its new service in its weekly customer email.

The free service, which uses a publishing engine developed by the Australia company Harvest Road, has now picked up more than 1600 users, even though Xtra only sees its promotion so far as a "soft launch" to establish the market.

"We've got plans for personal Web pages in the same way that people are increasingly using email," says Xtra marketing manager Ian Scherger. "You've got your email address and your personal Web page. It's not commercial hosting. The positioning for it is for personal use."

To help customers illustrate their pages, Xtra has partnered with Kodak in a scheme which will allow customers to take photographs to Kodak outlets and have them scanned and saved to disk.

Scherger says Xtra ran a closed beta test of the system about a month ago, "and that went well. We went live last week, and by word of mouth we got 500 sites up within a week, and then we sent out the weekly email on Friday night. By Monday morning we had 1600 sites."

The Harvest Road system is also likely to be put to use on "other community-based services" on the Xtra site.

Customers are walked through the creation of a new site by the Xtra Web Wizard and on completion get a URL of the form mysite.xtra.co.nz/~myname. They are limited to 1Mb of data and three HTML pages.

Examples of work so far can be viewed via the index at http://www.personalweb.xtra.co.nz/comm.html.

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