Beyond the Browser: Widgets and Rich Internet/Desktop Applications (RIDAs)
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Beyond the Browser: Widgets and Rich Internet/Desktop Applications (RIDAs)

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This presentation was given at the 4th Bangalore Barcamp in July 2007 by the start-up HiddenReflex. It's meant to inform software developers, designers and business development folks on how web ...

This presentation was given at the 4th Bangalore Barcamp in July 2007 by the start-up HiddenReflex. It's meant to inform software developers, designers and business development folks on how web widgets (e.g. Netvibes, Rockyou), desktop widgets (e.g. Dashboard, Google Gadgets) and RIDAs, rich internet/desktop applications, (e.g. Adobe's AIR, Dekoh) can enhance and expand the services your firms offer.

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Beyond the Browser: Widgets and Rich Internet/Desktop Applications (RIDAs) Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Beyond the Browser: Widgets and Rich Internet/Desktop Applications (RIDAs) Alok Bhardwaj, Founder, HiddenReflex alok@hiddenreflex.com Bharath Keshav, Software Engineer, HiddenReflex [email_address]
  • 2. Widgets
    • What is a widget
      • A small program. Usually does a single thing.
      • Often gets data from the web (one key driver--alt. way to net)
      • Web widgets (Flash, Javascript, XML, HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML)
        • In browser; can have RIA-functionality such as drag-able
      • Desktop widgets (all above, Perl, Python, C++, Executable)
        • Download to desktop; flashy appearance/also drag-able and persistent layout
      • Language options vary depending on the particular platform
      • Predecessors: Apple II, Push technology, Pointcast, Weatherbug
  • 3. Web Widgets: Uses
    • Aggregation Pages: Start Page(s)
      • RIA-type features; User Customizability
      • Example(s): NetVibes, PageFlakes, iGoogle, Yahoo Home Page
    • Personal Page(s)
      • Also often RIA-type features; User Customizability
      • Example(s): YourMinis, Piczo
    • Website/Personal Profile Enhancement
      • Example(s): MySpace/Facebook, Blogs, Other Websites
    • User Purposes:
      • Self-Expression widgets e.g. RockYou type photo, music widgets
      • Revenue-generating widgets e.g Paypal Donations or Deal of the day widget or Amazon item selector
      • Site Functionality-Enhancement widgets e.g Upcoming.org event badge or Twitter feed or Jaxtr anonymous calling widget
      • Content widgets e.g. news feeds
      • (Mash-Ups e.g. Mpire item price comparison from Auctions and Amazon)
  • 4. Web Widgets: Start Pages
  • 5. Web Widgets: Personal Pages
  • 6. Web Widgets: Website/Profile Enhancement
  • 7. Web Widget Internet Audience Penetration by Worldwide Region.
    • North America
    • 40.3%
    • April 2007.
    • Source: comScore Widget Metrix
    • 7.6%
    • Eastern Europe
    • 12.6%
    • Middle East-Africa
    • 17.5%
    • Latin America
    • 10.9%
    • Asia Pacific
    • 24.3%
    • Western Europe
  • 8. Top Web Widgets Worldwide
  • 9. Desktop Widgets
    • Desktop Data Integration with Web
    • Web Data to the Desktop
    • Heavier Widgets -- take advantage of client computing power
    • More Complex
    • Much More Diverse than Web Widgets
    • Single Function -- not a stand-alone program, often tool-like
    • Hot Button Access
      • Pulls up all widgets
      • Drag-able/Persistent Position
  • 10. Desktop Widgets: Screenshots
  • 11. A Selection of the Most-Downloaded Yahoo Widgets
  • 12. Widget Business Models
    • Advertisement Widgets
    • Advertising-Supported Widgets
    • Selling Widgets
    • Ecosystem/Platform
    • Extend Site or O.S.
  • 13. Advertisement Widgets
    • Widgets designed specifically by a company to creatively promote/advertise a product or service.
      • Example: FreeWebs has run several Widget-based Ad Campaigns
        • Reebok -- Freewebs created a customized a campaign that allows users to create and show-off their RBK creations via a virtual Shoe Fight contest. Freewebs aligned with RBK to increase awareness of their "Run Easy" brand and to drive traffic to the http://www.rbkcustom.com
        • Number 23 Movie Campaign-- Freewebs compelled users to see the Number 23 movie by creating a viral widget to ignite interest in the myster of The Number 23. Freewebs developed a unique Widget Game that manipulated bits of the User's personal information to show them the ubiquity of the number 23 in their own lives.
  • 14. Advertising Supported Widgets
    • Source Code Not Secure
      • Advertising code can be cut out and widget re-distributed so advertising should be integral to a non-web-service driven widget (e.g. google business model).
      • Widgets without (web) value-added services can be hacked and advertising removed e.g. a widget to link to a particular product at Amazon can be hacked easily but a widget that displays comparative/best prices can’t.
    • Service-Based Web Widgets, even Desktop Widgets can implement “safety” measures to insure advertising is displayed
      • Forbes has a series of popular widgets that show for instance their headlines or most popular video stories and the widgets are sponsored by Visa (so here Forbes is distributing its content but also getting direct revenues via the advertising at the bottom of the widget (the Visa logo)).
    • User/Creator Revenue Split (again must be non-trivial)
  • 15. Selling Widgets
    • Widget Source Code Not Secure
      • No way to control distribution.
      • Freeware with Donation Request?! (that too can be cut out)
    • Service-based widgets can be secured
      • Pay services via passwords or possibly OpenID
      • Monitoring to ensure widget distributors gain (if they’ve requested that is) some portion of revenues from page-views or sales for example
    • Grants/Contests (by platform distributors)
  • 16. Ecosystem/Platform
    • Widgets can become popular and a network all their own
      • Example: MyBlogLog Widgets are inserted into blogs to show the visitors to that blog; Sold to Yahoo for $10-12 million
    • Ecosystem Opt-In User/Creator Revenue Split
      • May become Slide or RockYou or other self-expression type widget creators’ revenue model; opt-in for revenue share
    • Leverage/Insinuate Into Existing Networks
      • Facebook has emerged as a platform; has a more open policy regarding widgets compared to MySpace
      • A V.C. firm Bay Partners has created a special fund, AppFactory, to invest in Facebook widget-makers.
    • Lots and Lots of Desktop Widget Platforms (too many)
      • Konfabulator (now Yahoo Widgets) was bought by Yahoo
    • Google Gadget Ventures
      • Grants of $5000 for development of gadgets they like
      • Investments of up to $100,000 for widget-based business plans
      • For either, must already have created a gadget getting at least 250,000 weekly page views
  • 17. Extend Site/O.S.
    • Windows/Mac integrate into O.S.
    • Extend Functionality of Network or Services
      • Yahoo Mail widget gives alerts or Yahoo finance widget portfolios
      • Brings Web Data to Desktop or Data from Desktop to the Web
      • Tie-in to other services offered
      • Closer in general to the User
    • Viral-spread of widget/site via web widgets
      • Since web widgets are published, a single widget installation is potentially seen by dozens if not hundreds of people creating viral distribution possibilities
        • YouTube Video Widgets on Myspace critical to its success and rapid growth
    • Enhance Site--RIA features have demonstrable quantitative benefits
      • More functionality and interactivity in a page. Less cumbersome /More Intuitive UI/organization/navigability. All=higher sales/conversions…
    • Extend Site
      • Mindspace/Site Promotion (widget promotes the site and vice-versa)
        • Baby Ticker – The Baby Countdown Pregnancy Ticker Widget from Babystrology
      • Click-throughs
        • to site(s) for more information, or additional services at which point advertising can be displayed and products or services could be sold
  • 18. Widget Stickiness
    • Intuitively Widgets are sticker than a Website…as it takes more effort to download and install or cut and paste the code of a widget into one’s site than to visit a website.
    • BUT there are many indications widget users are quite fickle and that widget downloads are not indicative of durable success:
          • Tie-In Strength - the widget may be thought of by users as quite distinct from the product or service it’s meant to promote e.g. there were over a million installations of the widget for the film Hoot which flopped.
          • High Widget Turnover e.g. entrepreneur Paul Kedrosky wrote about his Facebook news feed widget and Facebook widget behavior: “People all add one app; people all drop that app. Repeat, repeat, repeat. This is not a mainstream audience, nor does it seem to have much permanence… Don ’t get me wrong. Facebook is an awesome platform. But don ’t get overly excited about getting even a hundred-thousand people… With 27 million users you can get a decent-sized number of people to try pretty much anything. Whether any of [those people] will stick is another question.”
  • 19. RIDA (Rich Internet/Desktop Application) Platforms
    • What is a RIDA?
      • A standalone application for web and or desktop service(s)
      • Greater access to client computing resources than widgets
      • Can Integrate or Mix Desktop and Web data/applications
        • E.g Dekoh’s photo viewer or iTunes or Employee Workpage(s) via Webtop
      • Usually has a specific purpose/site associated with it
        • E.g. eBay or Amazon browsers; finance or map (Google Earth) browser
    • Platforms
      • Dekoh, Adobe’s AIR (not just flash), WPF (.Net)/Silverlight, Cloudstack
      • Cross-OS GUI Platforms like qt, wxwidgets, Mozilla
      • Dojo’s Offline Toolkit (Google Gadgets), Browser offline support (Firefox)
      • LaszloSystems Webtop, Java WebStart
      • Flash-based Desktop Platforms like MDM’s Zinc or Northcode’s SWF Studio
    • Differences from Desktop Widgets
      • RIDA has own icon to load/stand-alone/distinct (not just a single-use tool)
      • Multi-purpose/Complex functionality/Integration of multiple related services or tools
      • Interface important and complex
  • 20. UI/UE (user experience) Matters! From a PPT Presentation from Forrester Research on Rich Internet Applications (RIAs)
  • 21. Sample RIDAs
  • 22. RIDA (Rich Internet/Desktop Application Business Models
    • Ad-supported.
      • Example(s): AOL Radio
    • Linked to Website Service
      • Example(s): Dekoh browser for Google Calendar (good for Google!)
    • Brand-Extension/More Conversions
      • Better Interface(s) translates into better sales conversions/sales (RIA evidence at least)
      • Example(s): eBay or Amazon browser.
    • Better Product
      • Online/Offline Services crucial for say Google Doc.s
    • Selling Services
      • Content Services Can be Secure and thus Sold.
      • Example(s): Financial Trading Systems
    • Selling the Application itself
      • Can likely secure it like any other software (depending on the platform).
  • 23. Why Develop a RIDA (Rich Internet/Desktop Application?
      • Own icon to load/stand-alone/distinct (not just a single-use widget).
      • Multi-purpose/functionality (unlike a widget).
      • Build a Specialized Platform/Aggregate Services/High Performance Services.
      • Rich, Highly Responsive user experience/Better Sales Conversions: Even with AJAX in the browser, there are still limitations to the kind of elegant user interface you can build. Evidence from RIAs indicates a high ROI.
      • Works Offline. (browsers like Firefox are integrating offline features…) Example(s): RSS or Mail Readers.
      • Decentralized infrastructure/Large Computation Requirements: Scalable server infrastructure not as crucial as users bring their own CPU cycles. (e.g. P2P networks).
      • Desktop/Web Integration. Example(s): Dekoh Applications.
      • High Branding/High User Investment--the ubiquity of the browser makes getting someone to visit your site easy, but it’s just as easy for someone to go to a competitor’s site..downloading a RIDA requires much more of a user investment/commitment to your product/service (for better or worse).
  • 24. Widget, RIDA, Browser Comparison
    • RIDA (Rich Internet/Desktop Applications)
      • Stand-alone/Strong Branding/Front and Center for User.
      • Client Computing Resources/Heavy.
      • Desktop/Web Data or Service Integration.
      • Aggregation.
      • High Performance, Consistent Interface/High Reliability Applications.
    • Desktop Widgets
      • Single-Function, tool-like application or service.
      • Desktop/Web Data.
      • Consistent Interface.
      • Client Computing Resources/Heavy.
    • Browser
      • Lowest friction for adoption. Many users don’t download (period).
      • Cross-Platform easiest by far.
      • Ubiquitous access/Ubiquitous Browser Knowledge.
      • Little Uncertainty about client behavior/access to client resources.
    • Web Widgets
      • Simple, light-weight services (photo(s), news headlines, data feeds, etc.).
      • Creative design: “cool” factor for personalizing a blog or profile.
      • Aggregation.
  • 25. Widget/RIDA Stickiness
      • In Theory, Widgets/RIDAs should be Stickier/Higher User Investment than a Website (perhaps)
        • Takes more effort to download and install or cut and paste the code of a widget into one’s site than to visit a website.
        • BUT there are many indications widget users are quite fickle and that widget downloads are not indicative of durable success
          • Tie-In Strength - the widget may be thought of by users as quite distinct from the product or service it’s meant to promote e.g. there were over a million installations of the widget for the film Hoot which flopped
          • High Widget Turnover e.g. entrepreneur Paul Kedrosky wrote about his Facebook news feed widget and Facebook widget behavior: “People all add one app; people all drop that app. Repeat, repeat, repeat. This is not a mainstream audience, nor does it seem to have much permanence… Don ’t get me wrong. Facebook is an awesome platform. But don ’t get overly excited about getting even a hundred-thousand people… With 27 million users you can get a decent-sized number of people to try pretty much anything. Whether any of [those people] will stick is another question.”
  • 26. Choosing a Platform: High-Level Technical Issues
    • RIDAs
      • Platform usage itself is immaterial as RIDAs are all a bit heavy and don’t generally require a pre-installed platform SO…
      • Choose the platform that natively supports key features of your product I.e Dekoh has built-in tag and sharing support features
    • Web Widgets
      • Test phase--choose a platform that has function(s) that support easy creation of your widget
      • Language-choice is important for MySpace is restrictive particularly in respect to javascript
      • Type of widget important for the platform to choose e.g. self-expression type widgets for publishers are ideal candidates for MySpace, Facebook, YourMinis, and may not be as clear a fit for start pages like Netvibes
      • Universal APIs and cross-site publication platforms are maturing (e.g. NetVibes API, Snipperoo, ClearSpring)
      • Post/Promote in Widget directories/aggregators like WidgetBox and others as well as through the Platform’s site and other relevant sites
    • Desktop Widgets
      • Test phase--choose a platform that has function(s) that support easy creation of your widget
      • Platform usage/number of installations is crucial so most likely you want to stick to a platform with a large user base such as Yahoo Widgets, Windows Sidebar or Apple’s Dashboard
      • Universal APIs being developed for easy cross-platform porting
      • Post/Promote in Widget directories/aggregators like WidgetBox and others as well as through the Platform’s site
  • 27. Quicktake: Mobile Widgets
    • Widgets are a natural fit for Mobile Devices
      • Use less bandwidth than typical browsing
      • Browsing not easy; usually need some select service fast; touch screen
      • Always running/instant on
      • Emerging Standards/Technologies: Mobile Flash and Flash Lite; Java ME and JavaFX Mobile; Mojax
      • PDA platforms (Palm, Windows Mobile)
    • Fring -- VOIP/IM/Twitter Communications.
    • ZenZui -- Microsoft spin-off to widgetize webpages to ease web navigation.
    • BluePulse -- “two things here that make this important; the first is the sheer number of phones bluepulse works on and how good the experience is across the range.”
    • Mobio (deal with 9 Indian carriers, about 70% of the market)
    • Mobile Distellery/Celsius -- over 650 devices supported; easily ports mobile java applications to different phones.
    • Opera;
    • iPhone -- no widget support for outside developers/only within their mobile safari browser.
    • Webwag/Mobease; Bling Software; NeoMades (NeoMad; gaming); Plusmo (claim over 20,000 widgets); ActionEngine (rich media ap.s); Flurry
    • Widset -- Out of Nokia Emerging Business Unit. Technology based on Java MIDP 2.0. Over 1400 widgets. Over 300 phones supported. “a disappointing RSS reader from Nokia.”
  • 28. The Future
    • Easy User-Created Widgets
      • Apple Clip for the Dashboard
    • RIDAs Rich Internet/Desktop Applications
      • Some applications Secure: RSS Readers, E-mail clients, Photo organizers/viewers, Music players
      • Wider future uncertain. Platforms just being launched.
    • Cross-OS/Cross-Site/Web+Desktop Widgets
      • Cross-Site Web Widget Creation/Publication: Clearspring, Snipperoo
      • Desktop/Web: Spring Widgets; NetVibes Universal API
      • Opera’s submitted open standards to W3C
      • Cross-OS: Yahoo (Windows, Mac); Opera (Windows/Mac/Linux)
      • Linux: open source projects to port to Linux; Dashboard; Yahoo Widgets; Windows may have as well (Mono group porting Silverlight to Linux)
      • Other Platforms: Mozilla (XULRunner), Java Platforms, Silverlight/Dekoh/Apollo; YourMinis via OpenLaszlo
      • HiddenReflex
    • RIAs (Rich Internet Applications)/Browser Developments
    • Spread of User-Customization via Widgetization/RIA to many, many websites
  • 29. Now for Some Technical Details…
    • Thank you for attending the business/user experience-oriented part of our presentation.
    • For a copy of this PowerPoint presentation or if you have any questions, please visit our site at www.hiddenreflex.com or write either of us.
      • Alok Bhardwaj, [email_address]
      • Bharath Keshav, [email_address]
  • 30. Desktop Widget Engines: Language Comparison
    • From Wikipedia (they have a good page which compares widget engines as well as other pages on widget engines and cross-OS development platforms)
  • 31. A Peek into the Yahoo Desktop Widget Platform
    • Highlights of Yahoo's widget platform functionalities include:
      • Uses XML to define any widget. Javascript can be embedded.
      • CSS standard adopted as the rendering model for the Yahoo widget engine 4.0 onwards.
      • Several mechanisms for handling XML. These services provide easier way to create, parse, and manipulate XML trees.
      • Internet-related services such as fetching any URL, manipulating it, posting data to internet, etc can be written with a very little code.
      • Comes with innumerable functions to make widget programming intuitive and easy, particularly many related to animation.
        • Some examples include: itunes.play(), itunes.fastforward(), itunes.nextTrack(), itunes.prevTrack(),YahooLogin(), YahooLogout(),
      • In-built support for SQLite.
    • Let’s make some widgets…and see just how easy and fun it is…