Site builder Webs.com (formerly known as Freewebs) is launching a new App Store today with the hopes of helping its members customize their sites with rich, dynamic web apps without having to deal with widgets. The company is adopting a model similar to Facebook Platform, inviting developers to build applications that users can install on their Webs.com pages from a central directory.
Webs CEO Haroon Mokhtarzada says that one of the biggest problems with traditional website builders is that they generate static content, and it’s up to the site owner to continuously provide new content in order to engage readers. That’s fine in some cases (like for business websites), but most people have a tough time coming up with quality content on a regular basis. But he says that rich applications, which offer users a more dynamic experience, can help.
At launch Webs has 15 total application savailable, though most of these were built internally (there are six built by third parties, with more in the works). Launch apps include a game arcade by HeyZap, Meebo’s Community IM, an Etsy store app, and an appointment app by BookFresh that will allow businesses to schedule appointments and execute payment transactions directly from their Webs.com sites. Applications that were built in-house include a calendar, forums, photo galleries, and video sharing platform.
The initial app selection covers most of the basics, and will be welcome additions for the site owners looking to customize their pages with new features. It’s also worth pointing out that Webs has recently seen strong growth from a segment of users who are tapping into the site’s social features, which allow users to build their own community websites (much as they would on a service like Ning). Mokhtarzada says that these still represent a minority of users, but that the performance of their sites is generally much higher than ‘normal’ sites across all metrics. The application platform launching today will likely be especially appealing to these group sites, where users may want to share their photos, forum posts, and video with other members. Mokhtarzada is also optimistic about the appeal of these apps to business owners, who will be better able to integrate marketplaces and schedulers like the aforementioned BookFresh app.
For apps supported by advertising, Webs takes a rev-share that is determined on an app-by-app basis, with around 60-70% going to the app’s developers. Webs is also going to be integrating a unified payment system for applications that want to charge users, which will also have a rev-share arrangement.