Today we want to put our blog spotlight on Widgetbox’s most popular widgets and shed some light on our syndication story. We define popularity by the number of subscriptions a widget has. Our five most popular widgets range from 1,802 to 954 subscribers each as I write this, and those numbers keep going up! Remember, 1,802 subscribers are not 1,802 eye balls – these are not desktop widgets. A web widget subscription exponentially extends its reach to the subscriber’s network of friends, readers and casual viewers. With over 39.5 million widgets served and climbing, you can get a sense of the reach our widgets are attaining on the subscribers’ blogs, web pages and social networks like MySpace. Here are the current five most popular widgets on Widgetbox: • Baby Ticker – The Baby Countdown Pregnancy Ticker Babystrology built this widget on January 31st and in about 5 weeks watched subscriptions grow to 1,800. And, it continues to add hundreds of subscriptions each day. Each week as your baby’s due date approaches, the widget baby grows and develops to match the real-life pregnancy. Proud parents-to-be can’t seem to get enough of this widget. • AddThis Social Bookmarking Button AddThis.com put their widget in our gallery when they launched in October. It’s a widget that promotes your website or blog and works with all popular bookmarking services. AddThis.com is using Widgetbox as a widget “Amazon” to distribute their widget well beyond their own site. This week they got the TechCrunch spotlight, too. • YouTube Videos Bastawhiz, a.k.a. Matt Basta, put this widget in the gallery and watched it gain 954 subscriptions. Just as you would expect, this widget uses the YouTube API to display all your YouTube videos on your site. This widget is among 15 of Matt’s widgets in our gallery – many of them with hundreds of subscriptions and most of which focus on social networks. I can’t help but point out that Matt is 17 years old – it will be amazing to see where he is in a few years! • There are two widgets on the most popular list that we built here at Widgetbox. We sometimes widgetize interesting or important web assets that haven’t already been added to our system. In this case, who could resist the classic Pacman (1,224 subscriptions), or an XSPF Music Player (1,101 subscriptions). Anyone wanting more games or a different music player can browse or search our categories and tag clouds for others. So what makes these widgets so popular? (Widget developers, take note!) • They are social – they’re built around things you want to share with your friends and readers, like the news of a pending baby, favorite websites and blogs, as well as videos, music and games. • They are personalized – it is your baby’s due date, your website or your blog, your videos, your playlist – subscribers are using our multiple configuration options and expressing themselves with these widgets. We have found that the more personal the widget, the more users love it! Web 2.0 is all about expression and connection on the web, and these widgets exemplify that. • They are simple and catchy – how can you resist: a replica of your baby’s development that starts moving in the third trimester – all within a widget! Or, a tiny badge for easy bookmarking. Or, your favorite videos stacked in a tower ready to share. The content combined with the form factor of these widgets make it easy for people to consume and share them. • They are promoted – subscribers are talking about them. After they embed the widget on their blogs and web pages, they tell their readers and friends about it. They blog about it and link back to it often so that their readers will take note. Lots of “hey, check it out…” happening with subscribers. We attribute this phenomenon to a combination of the first three things we outlined here. The more social, personalized, and simple a widget is to use, the happier your users will be with it, and the more viral it will become. Our growth in subscriptions is happening across the entire Widgetbox gallery—this is not simply a handful of the most popular widgets experiencing rapid adoption. Recently, we’ve seen an increasing number of widgets with multiple hundreds of subscriptions. This growth in subscription is a strong sign of our viral growth. It’s a sign pointing to a viral marketplace and clear indication that the power of our Widgetbox Syndication Platform™ is working. Our users tell us again and again how much they appreciate how easy Widgetbox is to use--something we have worked extremely hard to achieve--which helps both them and us syndicate our widgets and our message. In addition, our developers are using our Widgetbox Syndication Metrics to track and follow their widgets, which pushes this viral spread even further. We love watching the growth and spread of the Widgetsphere!!
Widgetbox recently rolled out two features of interest to Flash developers:
- No-paste installation into MySpace.com, a popular social networking site.
- You can adapt your widget so that it can link out of MySpace.
No-Paste Installation Into MySpace
Widgetbox lets users install Flash widgets to their MySpace profile without cutting and pasting. Our MySpace installation screen lets the user choose what part of MySpace to install the widget to:
This is for all Flash widgets, even ones that already exist in Widgetbox.
Linking out of MySpace
Adapting your widget to be able to link out of MySpace is a short and sweet process. A MySpace link-enabled widget is wrapped with two “softkey” buttons, similar to cell phones softkeys. Here's what it looks like:
These softkeys only show up when the user installs on MySpace. Everywhere else, the widget appears normally.
You can learn more about this and the rest of Widgetbox's flash support in our flash developer guide.
If you're one of the many thousands of people that have registered a blidget with Widgetbox, you might like to know that we've been busy making your blidget even better. wwww In last Friday's release (Feb 23) we:
- Improved rendering times for blogs with very large RSS feeds.
- Added support for a few new variants of feeds.
- Improved our rendering when the HTML content of a feed is malformed.
- Added a cool new image option.
On Friday the 23rd, Widgetbox released version 1.4, our fourth major release since going public last October. The most notable new feature is tag-based browsing. When you click in a category, you see a tag cloud with the most popular terms within that category: We added tagging because the catalog of widgets had grown to the point where simple categories no longer cut it. We knew we'd get to this point, and we did, and we're happy with how it turned out! Things to note:
- All our existing widgets have been retroactively tagged.
- When a new blidget is registered, we look at the blog site and extract tags from it.
As it turns out, we think they have a lot in common. So much so, that we are building the “Amazon” of web widgets. What’s driving this is the value of the network. When you’re building a syndication service, point-to-point or one-off sales and deals are okay but they don’t really move the needle forward. A syndication service’s value to customers increases exponentially when the power of the network is leveraged to the hilt. A widget syndication network becomes increasingly more important as the quantity of widgets increases and the quantity of people using and sharing those widgets also goes up. And, it becomes especially valuable as widgets find their way into e-commerce and marketing campaigns. Sometimes I am asked, “Why do we need widget aggregators? What’s your role and value in the web ecosystem?” I like to answer this using the analogy of books and Amazon. Amazon’s service provides amazing value in book recommendations, affiliate programs and marketing opportunities. For example, take finding a good book. You don’t need Amazon to find the Top 10 Bestsellers – you can find those at the supermarket. But, go down a level, and how do you find a book that matches your specific or general interest among the rows of bookshelves or online titles. On Amazon, you can browse by subject, look at bestsellers in categories, see new releases, look for bargains, etc. If you want a recommendation, you can read the reviews and ratings from Amazon’s editors and customers. Or, you can consider the intelligent cross-promotion such as “if you like this book, you might like this one too,” “customers who bought this items also bought”, and “customers viewing this page may be interested in this sponsored link.” You get it – you know Amazon creates immense value to their customers by leveraging their network of customers. So what does this have to do with widgets? Apply the question of “how do I find a book that matches my interest?” to “how do I find a widget on the wild plains of the web?” That’s where Widgetbox comes in. As the critical mass of widget builders and widget consumers accelerates, there is an increasing need for a widget “Amazon.” We built the most powerful and easiest way to rate, recommend, find and browse web widgets. From day one, our widgets are presented by new releases, most popular, top rated, featured, and a myriad of categories for browsing. When someone selects a widget, we give them a list of similar widgets they might also be interested in. And, like Amazon in the early days, our recommendation features will evolve and gain viability as the network evolves. You will see us continually tweak, reiterate and improve the Widgetbox navigation and recommendation functionality. You’ll also see us offer impressive affiliate programs and co-marketing opportunities. These improvements and advancements to our syndication network are made possible by our underlying platform, the Widgetbox Syndication Engine. People are using features like these every day on Widgetbox to navigate through our thousands of widgets to find the one they are looking for – whether they are searching the specific or browsing the general. This is the value of a widget aggregator, or widget marketplace as we see ourselves. Our syndication network reaches well over 20,000 sites today and that number is growing quickly; all widget developers benefit from the distribution and business opportunities provided by this network. Like Amazon and books, our job is to keep widget users happy and coming back for more. Part of that is providing them with relevant reviews and ratings from people with similar interests and needs so they can find the widget they are looking for. Let me know what you think about this analogy and our plans to build the “Amazon” of web widgets.