A comment in response to Jim Butz’ blog post (“Drupal and Startups: Is there a Connection?”) mentions Google Sites, an online system that allows people to easily build Web sites with such “Web 2.0” features as discussion boards and event calendars. Then a comment in Acquia VP Jeff Whatcott’s blog said that “Google Labs [is] cooking up their own CMS support division”.
Such online “build-your-own-site” systems have always been severely limited when compared to Drupal; on the other hand, Drupal’s installation procedure is still WAY beyond the abilities of 98% of the market. So we have simplicity and complexity, both reaching for the middle of the market.
Which will get there “firstest with the mostest“? Google’s a good bet — they’re smart folks, and the company has an amazing inventory of existing products they can leverage well. (Calendar, Groups, Maps, and Documents for site building; AdSense for revenue; Adwords for marketing.) The addition of e-commerce features (via PayPal/Google Checkout?) would make such a solution appeal to a lot of small business owners.
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about whether a consumer-level Drupal hosting service could be successful. Some ISPs offer one-click Drupal setup, but a lot more could be done to make hosted Drupal more user-friendly, such as one-click themes and modules, automated backups, integrated marketing services, etc.. The diversity of available Drupal modules could make such a solution more powerful than anything Google could offer… but simplifying and bulletproofing it for a consumer audience is not a trivial matter.
So here are two questions to consider:
- How is the market segmented? That is, which users would benefit more from a Google Site, and which should go with hosted Drupal?
- To the appropriate audience, what advantages would a hosted Drupal site have over a Google Site?
These are questions all Drupal consultants will have to answer soon. I hope the discussion we start here helps us all in our business. 🙂