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IncrediMail - Israel's incredible story
By David Shamah
I envy Ofer Adler.
IncrediMail applications have been downloaded more than 80 million times by people in over 100 countries.
"In any given month, IncrediMail is used to send out about 300 million messages," Adler tells ISRAEL21c.
"I think that after Outlook Express - which comes included with Windows - we have the most popular e-mail client application.
Giving people what they want
So how did IncrediMail get to be one of the most successful applications ever?
One of the company's prime missions has been to make sure that the animations and designs that are inserted into messages integrate smoothly with e-mail, so that they're easy to use.
The beta version of IncrediMail's second iteration - called IncrediMail 2 - is due out any time now, and it contains many improvements, says Adler.
Perhaps surprisingly, the biggest group of IncrediMail users is not kids, but adults who won't deal with an application that causes them unnecessary tech trouble.
"Sixty nine percent of our users are over age 32, with many in their 40s and 50s," Adler says.
Hi! Yo! - branching out from e-mail
Over the past year, says Adler, more than six million users have installed HiYo, without too much advertising by the company.
"It's very viral," he says. "One user sees it in an instant message and immediately clicks to download and install it, and so on.
The Tom Cruise IncrediMail legend
According to one version of the "IncrediMail legend," Adler, along with his cousin Yaron Adler (now president of the company), first thought of the idea for IncrediMail after seeing the 1996 Tom Cruise hit movie Mission Impossible.
Ofer, who was working in the Tel Aviv Stock Market at the time, thought that an e-mail Cruise sent in the movie - where a 3D envelope seemed to float away when the star sent a message - was one of the coolest things he had ever seen.
"Partially true," says Adler of the story, which has been repeated in several media outlets.
However, the creative pattern was set early, and the IncrediMail design department follows film, as well as trends in other spheres of popular culture, and relies on user feedback to come up with new cool effects.
Another incredible fact in these times of globalization and outsourcing, almost all of IncrediMail's 110 employees work in Israel, at the corporate headquarters in the Tel Aviv high-tech zone of Ramat Ha'hayal.
Giving it away for free and raking the money in
"We're lucky enough to be able to do everything we need from Israel, since all of our business is on the web," Adler says.
And being an Israeli company has not had any negative impact on business, Adler adds.
Another interesting piece of information is that even though the company's products are all available free (although there is a premium version of IncrediMail, with more capabilities and no ads),
Founded in 1999, IncrediMail has been