Marshall has the news up that Sprout Builder will no longer be offering free accounts. Sprout Builder is one of my favorite applications on the net and I always thought what they were doing for the Flash Platform was good. So while I share Marshall's sadness at the loss of the free service, I think this is much healthier for the ecosystem. In my talks with Carnet Williams, the CEO of Sprout Builder, they were getting a ton of demand from companies that wanted professional created widgets as well as a "white label" version of the service called FanKits that they could brand and let people easily build widgets around a specific campaign. Both provide direct revenue to SproutBuilder and I think show that there is money to be made in the widget business.
And as Marshall notes, the prices are far from daunting. When SproutBuilder first came out there were some whispers that this might be an interesting online version of the current Flash tool. It's not going to replace Flash in any way shape or form, but by having a very targeted model they're showing that it's possible to make money from web based tools that leverage the Flash Platform. I think this is good news for everyone in the RIA space as it shows there is a fairly robust ecosystem to create targeted tools on top of any given platform.