Widgetbox formally launched a new service that provides a directory of Web widgets and supporting platform to build, syndicate and manage small, dynamic Web services that can be embedded on Web pages. Widgetbox CEO Ed Anuff believes that his company’s widget platform, like RSS, can provide a standardized way to build and syndicate modular Web content. “There are two important trends--simple personal publishing and Web services. We play a role in bringing the two together," Anuff said.
According to Anuff, widgets can be categorized in three ways. First, syndicated functionality like Flickr badges (such as for a tag or user), which are designed to draw users to a site. Second, ecommerce widgets, like Google AdSense, and third, site enhancements that add functionality to a Web site, such click-to-connect services, external blog design components and search widgets, like Eurekster.
"We spent a lot of time with companies to figure out how to normalize widgets behind the scene," Anuff said. "We think we can take more of a leadership role, and we have an SDK [Software Development Kit] for people who want to incorporate widgets into their sites." So far, Widgetbox has around 200 widgets in its directory. "We can provide an interface point between externally provided widgets or Web services and eBay, for example," Anuff said.
Widgetbox's Widget Syndication Platform supports "live" widgets, which can be re-configured on the fly without touching the HTML code; "smart blogs" or "tag aware" widgets that are capable of reacting to content published on a Web page, such as displaying the most recent image related to a blog post or social networking page; and "panels," drag and drop installation and management of widgets. Security includes using IFrames and using the certifcation process to bring widgets into conformance.
The platform has some limitations. For example, widgets cannot be automatically resized, and Widgetbox currently requires use of its form builder for creating configuration screens.
Anuff said he is also looking at getting Web widgets onto the desktop. “We can function any place where we can deliver dynamic HTML, but first we will focus on Web widgets, which is where the new growth is,” he told me. Anuff said his company plans to make money by creating a marketplace for widgets, in which developers can pay to promote their services on the Widgetbox Web site. The company will also charge fees to developers for using Widgetbox’s platform and software development kit to handle syndication and to ensure compatibility across various browsers. Widgetbox is also working revenue sharing with sites such as Yahoo and eBay on ad clicks and transactions that occur in Web widgets. Widgetbox works with Commission Junction, including the management of payments to the various parties in the money chain.
Anuff and team hope to build a vibrant ecosystem with partner and developer support programs. Prior to Widgetbox, Anuff and his managmement team were at Epicentric, a provider of enterprise portal software that was sold to Vignette in 2003. It's not hard to imagine Widgetbox being a source of certified, secure widgets that integrate easily with enterprise portals, dashboards and desktops.