Widgets, Widgets Everywhere
During the past week, I must have heard the word widget about a dozen times. It seems like every marketing publication and blog has posted something about them lately. What’s most interesting is the broad array of "things" people are referring to when they use the term widget. To some it’s a browser plug-in that pushes data to the user via a web service, while to others, it's a fully branded desktop application that works in a partially connected world to pull data and update information.
The one thing all marketers can agree on is that widgets, in whichever form they take, are something to keep an eye on. As I wrote in Bye-bye Advertising, Hello Experience Building marketers are looking for new ways to connect with consumers outside of traditional media and are shifting their budgets toward creating branded experiences. Widgets, and branded mini-applications, are a viable way to keep users engaged and active without constantly pushing them to your site. They provide the desktop real estate that marketers crave without relying on a consumer’s browsing habits.
I’m sure the official release of Adobe AIR in 2008 will only make things more confusing, as the line between web applications and desktop applications continues to blur.