Fox Interactive Media will announce a new widget platform called SpringWidgets on Monday morning at the Widgets Live Conference in San Francisco. It is a unique offering in the increasingly complicated widget space, although the desktop portion of it only works on the Windows platform.
Widget platforms today work on websites (see Google Gadgets and WidgetBox) or the desktop (see Yahoo Widgets). Microsoft has a widget platform that will work on the Vista desktop and also on live.com pages. But no one has created a single widget platform that works on most websites as well as the desktop. That’s what SpringWidgets is launching.
SpringWidgets has a few widgets already in the library, mostly showcasing Fox content from including IGN.com, FOXSports.com and MyFox local station sites. I’ve embedded a clock widget below.
Each widget can be embedded on a website or placed on a desktop. And they are easily shared, so if a website visitor sees a widget they like they can click a link and add it to their own site, or their desktop, or both. That’s an important innovation, and a useful one for websites. For example, a blog could include a widget on the site that shows the RSS feed for the blog. Loyal readers could download the widget to their desktop.
They’ve also released a sofware development kit to allow developers to build their own widgets on the platform. They are also partnering with Feedburner to give those users an easy way to build a widget showing Feedburner RSS feeds.
In my opinion Microsoft is the largest competitive threat to the SpringWidgets platform. Fox owns MySpace, of course, and promotion there can give them a very large early boost. But they need to be aggressive about distibuting the platform – Microsoft will have it built in to Vista automatically. And they need to release a Mac version as soon as possible as well.
The technology behind SpringWidgets was originally developed by Sidereus Technologies, which was acquied by Fox Interactive in 2005. SpringWidgets is the first product from a new FIM group called FIM Labs, which also includes the founders of Newroo, acquired in March 2006.