Thirty-two new Israeli-made applications were born last weekend, as over 100 app developers participated in a 72-hour hackathon dedicated to developing new apps for the Wix.com platform. The apps will be included in the Wix App Store, and the winners will go on to fame, and a little bit of fortune.
Wix, with more than 30 million users worldwide (and growing at an average of a million more a month, the company says), is one of the most successful Israeli Internet applications. Wix provides a platform for the creation of websites without the fuss of high-level programming.
Users can build advanced HTML 5-based websites with no technical knowledge at all, dragging and dropping modules until they build the site they want. The sites are hosted on the Wix servers, with the basic service free, and advanced features available for a fee. Wix, founded in 2006 by brothers Avishai and Nadav Abrahami and Giora (Gig) Kaplan, recently signed up with US investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. to lead its initial public offering in the U.S.
Among the unique features Wix offers its users is an App Market, which includes specialized modules that users can add to their sites to expand functionality. The apps allow Wix users to integrate features like e-commerce, social networking functionality, marketing, and others into their sites without having to spend endless hours trying to tweak code in order to get it to work with existing objects and features.
It was to develop new App Market modules that 120 programmers gathered in Wix’s north Tel Aviv offices to spend three days working on novel app ideas for the platform. The winner? An app called Weddingram, which allows sharing pictures from weddings and other events directly into a Wix website. The runner-up, Voicio, allows immediate telephone contact between a site user and owner, a feature very useful for e-commerce sites.
Also selected as top apps were EZanalytics, which allows users to easily get statistics on site traffic, and Pinterest Feed, an application that allows integrating pages of the popular social network site into a Wix site. Winners received a modest cash prize, but the real reward for developers is inclusion of their app in the App Market, where 30 million platform users are their potential customers.
There’s a lot of competition in the easy-to-build website construction/hosting business; Wix is up against some big names, like Google and WordPress — so to reach a level of 30 million users requires a rich feature set that can outdo the offerings of its rivals. That rich feature set is enhanced by the App Market, said Wix CEO and co-founder Avishai Abrahami.
“A website is no longer just an online business card for small businesses,” he said. “It’s a way to offer expanded services, interactivity and functionality that customers can access anytime and from anywhere. We created the Wix App Market to give small businesses the ability to offer the same advanced online capabilities as much larger businesses without having to spend a lot of money to do it.”
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