The widget summit was overall a very interesting and informative event, it really got my head spinning with ideas. It was well attended and the people who came were representatives from major companies, developers, and widget start-ups.
Google had a large presence here, and while officially three Google employees were presenting and one exhibiting, there were more than that there (including the new PM of Google gadgets – more on that later). I was blown away by several things that the Google people put out, also of note – everyone at one of the sessions got a invite to the newly announced (and exciting for me) beta of analytics.
The first day of Widget Summit started with three keynote speakers.
The first speaker was Norman Liang from the business development team at Nokia who spoke of mobile widgets. He was pimping the fact that Nokia is approaching the 1 billion users mark, and highlighted a couple interesting products. During his presentation he mentioned the five big things people want on their phones as widgets – Google search, Myspace, YouTube, iTunes, and Ebay.
Wanna make some Nokia phone gadgets? A good place according to him to start is Where.com which has some really neat features and a good deal of documentation for creating mobile widgets. One of the coolest features is the phone emulator which allows a developer to see exactly how a widget will act and look on a Nokia S60 phone.
Nokia surrised me with their resources available and the extensive S60 Webkit , but to tell the truth, my interest in mobile widgets isn’t huge, not that I do not see the potential, only because it is not what I am concentrating my current efforts on.
Next up was Max Levchin of Slide, who is also the guy who made PayPal and sold it. So, he seems to know what he is doing. He discussed Slide, which many know as the maker of those customizable cool slide show widgets. What you may not know is that some of the most popular Facebook applications are from Slide too. The Top Friends one for example and Superpoke are among the many Slide apps that have gone big.
Max and Niall sat down to a discussion about the direction of Slide and the widget industry on the whole. I found most of it interesting, and it is always inspiring to listen to someone who has been so successful. Lawrence at SexyWidget did a great job of covering this conversation, and the rest of the summit as well.
Eric from MyBlogLog was next and he discussed the transformation that can occur when a widget gets popular. Clearly he would know. MyBlogLog has one of the most successfully distributed widget out there (recent readers) and this one widget basically formed their empire.
He offered some good advice and mentioned alot of resources, but it boiled down to basically “value per pixel” in other words get your biggest bang for your buck by using the space of your widget well. Another great point he made was that strategically, it is wayyyy better to design a widget to be used in the content area of a blog rather than the sidebar. Sidebar widgets, who most people proclaim to be splendidly important and the real “next thing”, are actually rather overlooked. This is because sidebars are overlooked and really not used by visitors. An example of getting a widget into the content area rather than the sidebar would be a widget that plays video that is the focus of a post and therefore used in the post itself.
Okay, next I will be writing about the sessions themselves, and there is much to put out, I will do so in the next day or so.