When reading about comScore’s new list of top ten widgets (and their reach) in The Wall Street Journal, it reminded me of jellybean contests that involve guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar. While most people try and win it by pulling a number out of their ass, others try and learn arcane facts like that there are 930 jellybeans in a US gallon, and then make an estimated guess.
Web traffic measurement firm comScore seems to be taking the second approach, and has come up with Widget Metrix, a Top 10 widget list that is amusing (Bunnyhero Labs) and astounding (Picture trail). Somehow, I am having a hard time trying to buy into the accuracy of this list. Their definition of widgets is something of a concern.
The current universe of widgets is defined as embedded flash (.swf) objects. The comScore Widget Metrix service will evolve in its tracking of widget file types as the market dynamics and content delivery systems change. The report currently focuses on the individual widgets, and not the platforms that deliver them. Desktop widgets are also not included.
If that is the case, then how come YouTube is not on the list, since they are essentially Flash-based embeds.
It is also not clear is that how the current comScore methodology of calculating their numbers based on a panel of 2 million Internet users correlates to widgets. The methodology has been questioned by some in the past; if comScore data about whole web sites, how can they be accurate about smaller (or individual) components of the page?
Nevertheless, this new list is just part of a growing widget mania that is heading into the madness phase. The large numbers being thrown around by widget start-ups and tracking firms are simply smoke screen around the fact that none of the companies are making anything meaningful in terms of revenues.
Don’t get me wrong: I am still a believer in the concept behind widgets, and many different ways they can be leveraged and can be put to work. Nearly eight months after I organized a day-long conference, Widgets Live in partnership with Niall Kennedy, I am yet to come across a convincing business model. The most common model: advertising inside widgets, which seems like running through a minefield.
Peter Chernin, the big cheese at News Corp., while speaking at the All Things D conference said: “We won’t allow people to create for profit platforms on our platform…. the Wall Street Journal doesn’t allow people to sell ads on their platform.” Of course, you can pay no attention to the man whose company owns the biggest widget playground, and guess the number of jelly beans in that jar.