Why Yahoo! buying Konfabulator is more than just about widgets
By Charlene Li
I’ve been on a plane all day (I’m now in hot, muggy Boston) and have been itching to write about Konfabulator’s acquisition by Yahoo!. I’ve been using Konfabulator for the past few months (since I’m not on an Apple) and have been tinkering with a few of the widgets. Widgets are little mini-applications that have primarily one purpose – to get for example, a mosquito report or reports your latest feedback rating on eBay. So why would I want a whole bunch of little things cluttering my desktop? That’s exactly what I was asking as I’ve been adding and deleting widgets the past few weeks!
But why should I have to wait for developers to do this? This is where I think Yahoo! gets very, very interesting with Konfabulator. As a developer tool, it may have some interesting potential for developing neat interfaces into Yahoo!’s vast stores of content and information. But if Yahoo! can put the power of widget creation into the hands of end-users, it would give us end users the power to not only create custom content streams a la RSS and MyYahoo!, but also allow us to filter, distribute, and combine that data in any way we see fit. There’s already precedence for this in the enterprise space, where JotSpot has taken wikis and built applications on top of classic wiki infrastructure. Proposed RSS extensions from Microsoft, Yahoo, etc. will provide additional structure around which widgets can be built – think shopping alerts.
So this is more than just about little widgets - I think it's potentially taking the power of application development out of the hands of "big" companies. Think of it as open source for the masses.
You can download and try out Konfabulator, which has already been renamed Yahoo! Widgets at widgets.yahoo.com.