Now At 25M Users, Wix Brings Third-Party Apps To Its Website Builder With New Marketplace

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Hard to believe, but the now-popular Iraeli-American startup, Wix.com, was founded in February 2006 — back when Tumblr was only a twinkle in David Karp’s eye. Since then, the company has made its name as a platform that allowed anyone, luddite or not, to build Flash-enabled websites and widgets in a jiffy.

The startup coasted along, adding functionality and growing steadily until it released its HTML5 builder in March of this year. In a sign of the times, Wix’s new product allowed users to build sites that would display across both PC and mobile browsers in a drag and drop format that co-founder Avishai Abrahami compared to “HTML5 for Dummies.”

Wix’s new functionality found adoption, as Billy reported in July that, from the time the HTML5 builder was launched in March, users had built one million websites using the new tool. Today, the startup is adding an important piece of the puzzle to support the growth of its HTML5 website builder, launching a new app market and SDK that will allow third-party developers to integrate their apps into Wix’s platform.

Essentially, the SDK enables app developers to create and distribute web apps to Wix’s audience for free. What’s cool about this is that the apps will require no download or technical knowledge to implement, meaning the marketplace won’t add any wrinkles or friction to the user experience. However, for users (and for Wix itself) opening this capacity to developers means that the site can offer a potentially huge new set of features, while maintaining drag-and-drop site design.

App developers, on the other hand, can offer their products and widgets either for free or at a cost, allowing them to generate revenue from Wix’s growing user base. For paid apps, Wix offers developers a 70-30 rev share, with Wix taking home 30 percent of sales.

And as to the size of its audience and the “market potential” for developers, not to sound like a Polyanna, but the startup’s user base is sizable and appears to be growing fast. In July of this year, for example, Wix had seen a total 20 million people use its platform. Today, in three months, the startup has added 5 million users, growing its user base to 25 million. Wix Director of Communications Eric Mason tells us that, on average, the startup is growing at a rate of one million new users per month.

Vanity stats aside, the new marketplace offers Wix an opportunity to scale its functionality, while keeping development costs to a minimum. To give users a taste of what it hopes will become a deep repository of apps and widgets, at launch today, the Wix App Market includes 25 apps, like Instagram, Tumblr, Soundcloud, DaPulse and RumbleTalk. So, now, when building their website using its HTML5 tools, users can connect their sites to their photo feed, blog archives and music playlists.

App developers can submit their apps at dev.wix.com. Anyone can submit, though apps are subject to approval by the company. Once apps are approved, they will be added to Wix’s HTML5 website builder, where site owners can then integrate them into their sites. Like the builder itself, all apps will be free, with some of them offering extended capabilities for a price.

At this low price point overall, app developers likely aren’t going to become billionaires building exclusively for the Wix platform, but with a user base that has pushed over 25 million, it’s a great way to add a supplementary revenue stream. Especially for developers who build awesome tools that fill existing gaps in the Wix framework or have already hit mainstream usage, a la Instagram and Tumblr.

However, Itzik Levy, the CEO of vCita, a scheduler and contact form (that’s much less well-known when compared to the two prior examples), said that even during two weeks of testing the app market’s limited beta, the company was seeing hundreds installations each day. We’ll see how things progress, but it could prove to be a relatively painless way to create some additional brand awareness and supplementary revenue.

Find the Wix App Market here.