Widgets seem to be popping up everywhere. Om Malik wrote recently on Business 2.0 that “Suddenly everything’s coming up widgets“. It’s a good article, but it is arguable about the speed at which widgets have fragmented the webpage. It’s been a growing trend, but admittedly one that has intensified recently.
What is a widget?
One can define these phenomena as tiny apps that offer a web service in a package that is able to be frictionlessy integrated into a webpage or desktop.
Om is very excited by these tools – his take is that, “Widgets are absolutely where the action is today.”
Widgets alone are fun, but it’s really the simultaneous evolution of widgets, AJAX and other technologies and their ability to feed off of each other that’s creating a powerful new ecosystem [Web 2.0 Journal].
Who are the players?
WidgetBox – Founded by Ed Anuff, a co-founder of Epicentric, WidgetBox bill themselves as an open web widget marketplace and syndication platform.
This blurb about them is a good summary of the world of widgets:
WidgetBox serves both the developers who create widgets and the web publishers who use widgets in their sites.
A web widget is a small piece of interactive content (like an ad or a game) that can be dynamically embedded into a web page. Widgets allow for a new level of expression and creativity as personal web publishers use them to create value and interest in their blogs, social networks, personal home pages, and web sites. In addition, widgets give large-scale online services a greater reach and visibility into the off-domain consumption of their core web services across mulitple platforms. As a trusted marketplace and syndication platform, Widgetbox enables developers to easily build, distribute, promote, monitor and monetize widgets. It enables web publishers to easily find, configure, integrate and manage widgets.
Widgetbox’s unique Widget Syndication Platform™ is central to the power and simplicity of the service. Developers use simple tools to turn their web application into a widget with no coding. The developer does not need to worry about the widget installation or configuration. Widgetbox manages the widget installation to any platform, including TypePad, WordPress, MySpace, etc. In addition, Widgetbox captures and stores the developer’s widget configuration to manage each subscriber’s customization. If the developer changes the widget’s code or configuration parameters, they will be propagated to everyone subscribing to their widget.
Web publishers can search the Widgetbox gallery and use the categories, ratings, and reviews to find the right widget. Once a widget is selected, Live Preview™ enables the web publisher to see the widget exactly as it will look configured for their site. The configuration is done without coding and the installation to the blog or web site is a visual process. In addition to this ease of use, Widgetbox has unique capabilities that make widgets smarter and more useful:
- Live Widgets: Widgets are always “live” within blogs and web pages. They can be re-configured instantly and without touching HTML code.
- Smart Blogs: Widgets can be “tag aware”, meaning a web publisher can make widgets react to the content of their web site. For example, an image widget might display images related to the content of the most recent blog post.
- Widget Panels: Drag & drop placement makes it easy to install and manage widgets within Widgetbox.
As a trusted marketplace, Widgetbox provides a security layer around widgets to prevent such things as Cross Site Scripting attacks. This solves solving one of the bariers barriers bloggers and social networks have with embedding web widgets.
Currently all Widgetbox widgets are free, but as business terms are set by developers in the future, the Widgetbox platform has the underlying technologies to provide robust widget analytics and e-commerce features to support monetizing widgets. Widgetbox will always provide a free service even as for-pay features are added.
Widgetbox was founded in early 2006 and has completed extensive private and public beta releases. The public launch was September 25, 2006.
It remains to be seen what business models crystallise in and around widgets. Keep reading Yoick – we’ll aim to apprise you of developments in this exciting area.