Widgets are the new black

Earlier this week I
that widget services are really ramping up now. Indeed over the past
couple of days I’ve noticed lots of action in the burgeoning widgets industry,
plus some excellent commentary.

At the Connected
Innovators program
at Supernova last
night PostApp revealed the high level of WidgetBox,
its “web widget marketplace”. It’s basically a marketplace for
developing and managing widgets (i.e. small web-based apps). It aims to bring
together the programmatic and participative Webs, in the words of CEO Ed Anuff.
In other words, it’s a marketplace between developers and regular Web users –
where WidgetBox sits in the middle. TechCrunch has a
, plus profiles
another company
called GoodStorm which
is doing e-commerce within widgets.

There are other services popping up to manage widgets too, e.g. Snipperoo
which I mentioned in my prior post. The possibilities of widgets seems endless
right now. Susan
Mernit mentioned
another angle on this, that the intersection of widgets
with structured data is an area ripe with opportunity:

“Widgets could be flavor of the moment, but the ways that some widgets
intersect with structured data (as opposed to intersecting with flashy, AJAX
DHTML fancy effects) is one of the things I find compelling (Yes, I am
fascinated by microformats, in particular).”

Susan says this opens up the ability to embed mini-apps in hugely popular
platforms like MySpace. Over time I expect the big media companies will enable
this kind of functionality in their platforms too – e.g. BBC, Yahoo (who already
have all pieces of the puzzle, with its Konfabulator product and media
platforms). For a taste of what Yahoo can do on a large scale, check out the NewsGator
Podcasts & Buzz
app – which searches RSS feeds to find video and audio
podcasts, plus buzzworthy stories, and allows you to view that within Yahoo!
Messenger with Voice. That kind of mini-app within an app is where all this is
headed, from a product perspective. The bigger picture is that it opens up more
opportunities for developers to leverage others platforms, and users to get more
and varied sources of content.

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