The tech blogosphere went nuts this past week after Color — a Palo Alto, California mobile application startup which combines photos and social networking — landed a whopping $41 million financing round. Well, a competing offering just emerged in Seattle called Zapd, and creator Kelly Smith thinks it is far cooler. Furthermore, Smith says the mobile app was built for far less dough, just $410,000.

Zapd may not have raised as much cash. But it has some high-profile backers that include former CEO Rich Barton; former AtomFilms CEO Mika Salmi; Second Avenue Partners’ Nick Hanauer and Mike Slade; and former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford.

Smith, a startup veteran who also leads Seattle-based Inkd, tells GeekWire that Zapd is a revolutionary way of creating Web sites in a matter of minutes from a mobile phone. In addition to Color,which is also trying to change the way people share photos via mobile apps, potential competitors include Posterous, Tumblr and Instagram.

But Smith says Zapd is different because nobody has “ever let you make a styled Web site from a phone before.”

“It’s just never been done,” he added.

I gave the service a whirl this morning, choosing from one of the 210 Web site themes to create a photo gallery. Using my iPhone, I was able to take a photo and create a Web site in a matter of minutes, sharing it via email and Twitter. (You can see the lovely photo of my green file cabinet here).

Of course, Zapd is not built for the average Joe sitting at his desk taking photos. Smith envisions people using it to create Web sites to sell a boat or chronicle a birthday party or market a vacation property.

It’s really “anything that you want to be more permanent with its own URL,” Smith says. He added that the goal with Zapd is to create an easy-to-use Web publishing tool “without coding, computers, ethernet cords or designers.”

Over time, he said they will let customers buy the URLs and purchase “theme packs” via iTunes.

At this point, the free app is just available on the iPhone, with Android coming soon. Themes are broken into various categories, such as World Travel, Poster Art, Wedding Day and Newborn Joy.

“This is a very easy concept to understand.  And that’s the point,” says Smith.  “And we think it will redefine how people think about Web sites.” Furthermore, he said the introduction of Zapd  “just might remind people that Seattle still turns out some pretty cool stuff.”

You can see how it works in this company video:

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

[Editor’s note: Kelly Smith is a GeekWire partner, providing branding services through Inkd].

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  • Elke Johnson

    I’m loving this app. So quick, so easy to use, the themes are the best! Can’t wait to see the new designs!

  • Devin Miller

    Looks great. Love the themes and structure. Will definitely try it out. I love how this was built and put in the app store for literally 1/100th of the money Color raised.

  • Joe the Coder

    I have to say, Color still doesn’t make sense to me. Especially at that valuation. Every article I’ve read about it makes me wonder what the heck it is. When the founder has to go out of his way to explain and justify it, you know there is something wrong.

    However, it’s really easy to understand how zapd might be useful to a typical consumer. Kelly needs to do some better publicity and marketing. Maybe he should be getting 41M.

  • Celebrity Cars

    Super quick and not buggy which is awesome. I’ve already built a few for both personal and business.

  • Anonymous

    Blackberry version????

  • Michael Thomas

    This is going to rock on iPad. Great concept with a potentially great development path.

  • MikeD

    I think Zapd misses the point of micro-blogging or the coming fluid augmented reality. Most people aren’t into building sites or even fill-in-the-blank interactions – they just want to post and share. You can see what this would look like with all the various location based photo browser apps – like (here’s an area near Seattle )
    Although I haven’t looked into Colors, I think what they want to build is like a Wikipedia for places, which is an awesome idea. I’m glad they raised the money they did so they can pay for the infrastructure needed. I just hope they don’t try to boil the ocean.

  • James Yeang

    Don’t know bout you, but I would have just used posterous

  • Joao

    Building something on “only $41,000″ is all of the sudden an accomplishment? Did most of that money go towards infrastructure anticipating a successful launch? If not – I hardly find $41,000 impressive.

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