Widget Growth Driven By Social Networks
Users of widgets are more likely to receive them from friends than from companies that created them, according to a new report from JupiterResearch, "Widgets: Delivering Applications Users Want." User between the ages of 18-24 are six times more likely to receive widgets from friends than from a company.
The increasing use of widgets is related to the popularity of social networking sites. Social networks have introduced a new group of users to the concept of dressing up their Web pages with small, useful programs. The adoption of widgets has grown rapidly in 2007 with 39 percent of users saying they are familiar with widgets and 29 percent have used them.
"Social networking sites have greatly contributed to the viral spread of widgets," said Barry Parr, JupiterResearch Media Analyst and lead author of the report. "Facebook increased the viral ante by giving widget authors programming access to its user database and notifying users when a friend added a new widget."
The most popular widgets are those that allow users to play video, music, or view slide shows. Widgets offering news, weather, or other information are also popular and often distributed through social networking sites.
"Media companies, including news organizations, should experiment with widgets to cement their relationship with audiences," said David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch.
"The evolution of widgets is in an early stage, though, so companies should keep development costs low and anticipate experimentation and frequent changes in what widgets look like and how they’re delivered."