Recently, while in San Francisco for a recent trip, I took a day and attended the Widgets Live conference. This one day event provided a forum for collection of widget innovators and stakeholders to join in a small venue to present and share technologies. The concentration of widgets were not limited to the desktops widgets but was expanded to include portlet based widgets, RSS aggregation portal widgets, and even hardware widgets. After being blasted with so many different widget frameworks and variations of the widget concept, I have come up with some primary themes of the widget movement:
Technologists don’t know what a widget is.
I heard the word or term refering to widget over 1000 times in one day and everyone had a different definition based on their own technology. This is not a bad thing as this concept continues to evolve.
The consumer market does not know and does not care about “Widgets”…yet.
As demonstrated by 1 presenter, after changing the name of a product line from widgets to something more descriptive, the adoption rate of the widget increased 4 fold in one month and has taken off ever since.
No one has come up with a good strategy in how to monetize widgets.
No one can sell widgets because the content and value is not great enough to drive revenue in the consumer market. I heard ideas about advertising models but it seems bleak. The only people who will make money from widgets as they stand today are content providers.
Few have addressed widgets outside of the commercial market.
There is a huge opportunity in the enterprise space but there are only a few of us who are addressing this area. I hope that Microsoft is smart enough to integrate their new Vista Sidebar into their CRM, Portal, and BI solutions.
Fox Interactive Media has the most robust Flash based desktop widget framework on the market.With a nice widget manager interface, the ability to share information between widgets (could enable SSO), and the ability to download widgets to the local PC with a single click, SpringBox widgets was the most impressive thing that I saw. As long as Fox Interactive Media can keep a tight reign on MySpacec.com, and Fox owned subsidiaries for content, I suspect we will see a lot of compelling widgets to come from this group.
There must put something in the water for Apple’s Dashboard widget developers.
To date, I still think that the Mac OS is the only elegant solution for “widgets” and personalized dashboards. Why no one has copied this model is a mystery to me. The other observation is no one has come even close to the visual aesthetics of the widgets available on the Mac.
Adobe Apollo will revolutionize how the desktop widget as received as a desktop interface for rich internet applications.
Though it was not the sexiest presentation, it was the most substantial breakthrough presented. I hope MSFT, Yahoo, and Google were watching because Adobe is coming.