Widget platforms, a throwback to Affiliate Program platforms
Posted by direwolff on July 29, 2007
Spent some time today checking out Widgetbox and Clearspring, two platforms for widget developers. It only took me two minutes to realize that these two differentiate themselves much in the same way that Linkshare differentiated itself from BeFree. From the beginning, Linkshare believed in a network model, one where they would bring together both merchants wanting to roll out affiliate networks, and affiliates interested in joining these programs. They also realized that there was value in enabling the cross fertilization of this ecosystem by facilitating affiliates of one program to quickly find other programs to join. This created some really nice network effects. BeFree on the other hand, only saw itself as a service provider to merchants wanting to set-up affiliate networks, and didn’t expose affiliates to any other offering beyond the single merchant’s program that they came to view. Though I believe they evolved out of this later on, they held fast and hard to this rule for a while, much to their detriment.
Well, it looks like it’s happening again, though this time it’s in the widget space. Widgetbox has created an environment that not only allows companies desiring widgets for their applications and content to find a platform for making this happen, but they also attract those publishers, bloggers, and individuals on social networks wanting to find widgets for their respective sites, to choose from a wide array of these. Talk about network effects. It’s great to be able to come get a widget for a particular provider and be exposed to hundreds of other widgets that might also be of interest. On the other side of the spectrum, Clearspring appears to be taking the BeFree approach and only provides a developer site for those wanting to develop their own widgets. What a waste of an opportunity. Oh well, in this battle among the widget platforms, I’m not sure where these two will end up, but any way you slice it I’d give the advantage to Widgetbox over Clearspring, though there’s a whole other class of players amongst the start page providers like Pageflakes and Netvibes that may yet have a word or two to add to this space.