Google has created a site called Google Gadget Ventures. Marissa Mayer will announce it this evening at the Searchonomics Conference in Santa Clara.

It’s a pilot program, with the aim of “bootstrapping an economic ecosystem around gadgets” – according to a press email we received. The program has two separate monetary offers. The first is an opportunity for already successful Google Gadget developers to get a grant of $5000, to develop their gadgets further. Developers are eligible to apply for this grant if they‚Äôve developed a gadget that‚Äôs in the Google gadgets directory “and gets at least 250,000 weekly page views.” Applicants must submit a one-page proposal detailing how they will use the grant to improve their gadget.

The second Google offering is a seed investment of $100,000 “to developers who‚Äôd like to build a business around the Google gadgets platform.” You need to have been a recipient of the $5000 grant to apply. This suggests that the initial $5000 grant is kind of a test, to see what developers can do with a little amount of money – if they impress Google, then they’ll possibly get $100k. To apply for the seed funding, applicants must submit a business plan “detailing how you plan to build a viable business around the gadgets platform”.

Conclusion – it’s Christmas for third party developers

This is another example of the growing ecosystem for third party web app and gadget developers. We’ve already posted today about some Facebook third party apps being acquired (and the growing business opportunities on that platform). Then there is the rush of external developer interest to build Apple iPhone apps, even though the iPhone hasn’t yet been released. We also discussed today how Yahoo is making good progress towards a third party developer ecosystem.

So Google offering monetary rewards, or incentives, to third party developers is a great move. Google knows the developer community is important to their future – not just to “enable developers to grow and diversify the universe of [Google] gadgets in a profitable and sustainable way” (a quote from the PR), but also because so much of web profitability these days is based on integrating third party apps into Web platforms. It helps make money for Google, Facebook, Yahoo, et al – because the more apps on their platforms, the better chance of getting page views and users. But even better, it is increasingly allowing third party developers to cash in. A classic win-win!

richard macmanus