Feeds

Yahoo! buys! bloated! widgets!

Konfabulous - 200MB of dancing Hula girl

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Just when you thought Yahoo! was showing signs that it knew it was doing, comes some news to suggest otherwise.

The competition between Google and Yahoo! has seen each company scrambling to make quality software available for download for little or no cost. And each company has, more often than not, brought home best-of-breed software. Google scored a coup when it bought Keyhole's 3D maps and the photo upload software of Picasa, while Yahoo!'s purchases include X1 for desktop search and the addictive photo community, Flickr.

Now Yahoo! has gone and ruined it, by picking up Konfabulator and the three developers behind the product. Konfabulator is one of several products that allow users to create simple applets using a scripting language, and Apple gave its Mac OS X 10.4 some extra bling by bundling its own widget runtime, called Dashboard, free with the new OS release.

Yahoo! says it's buying the widget environment to entice developers to its portal.

We merely note three facts, from which you can judge the coherence of Yahoo!'s strategy.

Firstly, a number of free alternatives are on the market - Kapsules, Samurize and AveDesk - raising the question of why Yahoo! almost certainly paid more than it had to for a commercial product. In mitigation, Yahoo! may plead that Konfabulator is cross platform, but that can't have been a decisive factor. Yahoo! didn't hesitate to buy a Windows-only product in the shape of X1.

Secondly, Yahoo already has a conduit for developers and users in the shape of its Instant Messenger program - alongside good old fashioned web pages and XML feeds. What does a widget run-time bring to the party? There are some in the Mac community who would rather see Yahoo!'s aging IM client - which hasn't been updated in two years - given some attention, as it now lags far behind the Windows version.

This brings us to the third observation. The Konfabulator acquisition rather spoils the recent run of buying best-of-breed. With just its default set of widgets, Konfabulator sucks out 200MB of memory - memory that users and developers might prefer to be allocated to something else. With these kind of system requirements, it may well deter the very people Yahoo! is trying to attract.

(Yahoo! shunned the venerable DesktopX which allows standalone executables to be created, and standalones don't use any more resources than say, a VB application. Perhaps Yahoo!'s M&A team simply took Konfabulator developer Arlo Rose's claims at face value. Rose likes to think he invented this product category.)

Then there's widget ennui itself. The novelty of playing with clock applets, weather widgets, stock tickers and dancing hula girls soon wears off.

Last month, Yahoo! bought DialPad to speed up its VoIP plans - a month after introducing PC to PC VoIP in a beta of its Windows IM client.

So - a strategy? Possibly. But coherent? We'll get back to you on that one. ®

Related stories

Mac OS X 10.4 - more bling than bang?
Konfabulator comes to Windows
DesktopX killer eye candy or the great Windows desktop liberator?

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Forget silly privacy worries - help biometrics firms make MILLIONS
Beancounter reckons dabs-scanning tech is the next big moneypit
Microsoft's Office Delve wants work to be more like being on Facebook
Office Graph, social features for Office 365 going public
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.