Salesforce.com to hold mobile app 'hackathon' with $1 million prize

Coders can get into the hackathon for just $99

Salesforce.com really wants lots of developers to come to its Dreamforce conference next month in San Francisco. As in, really.

On Friday, the cloud software vendor announced a "hackathon" would be held at the conference, with US$1 million going to the developer or team who creates the top prize-winning mobile application with Salesforce.com technology.

"It's not going to be easy -- $1 million is going to bring out the best of the best," Salesforce.com said in Friday's announcement. "So don't wait until Dreamforce! You're going to want to get started now. With Force.com, Heroku, ExactTarget Fuel, Mobile Services and more -- you've got a killer array of platform technology to use."

Salesforce.com will also be providing some "pretty amazing new technology" for use at the show, the announcement adds.

In order to participate, developers have to either register for a full conference pass or a special $99 hacker pass.

The hackathon reflects Salesforce.com's long courtship of developers to its development technologies, its AppExchange marketplace and recent efforts to build out more tooling for mobile application development.

Developers taking part in the hackathon will have plenty of competition, with some 20,000 programmers expected to attend Dreamforce overall. A "Hack Central" area will be open around the clock, supporting coders who want to work until the wee hours on their application.

In order to qualify, an application can't have been previously released. The entries will be judged on four criteria counting 25 percent each: innovation, business value, user experience and use of Salesforce.com's platform.

The second-place finisher will receive $50,000, with $25,000 going to the third-place winner. Fourth and fifth place will get $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Some 120,000 people are expected to register for Dreamforce this year. While some of that total will be watching online rather than in person, Dreamforce is now operating at a scale rivaling Oracle's OpenWorld event, which happened last month.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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