Musestorm talks about Widgets

m1.jpgMusestorm is an exciting company working in the fields of dynamic web data, like RSS feeds, web APIs and widgets. It helps developers by aggregating data and creating solid data-driven AJAX applications. Through its MuseStorm analytics service it also provides publishers statistics to analyze the impact of their widgets. Musestorm recently launched a new product, the Widget Syndication Service allowing users to very easily create and distribute widgets to websites, blogs, social networks and mobile phones. We asked Yishay Schwerd, its VP R&D and co-founder, a few questions about Musestorm.

Can you give us an idea of your background and what got you into widgets?
Our background is actually from Mobile related companies and technologies. We actually started with the developer SDK – allowing developers to easily access data on the Web. We developed the ability to aggregate and cache data, reformat data (for AJAX, Flash and JSON apps originally) and distribute the data, to applications. Later we understood that the same technology can be easily used to produce widgets and in June 2006 we’ve launched “Widget Central”.

Can you explain the technology behind Musestorm?
The technology behind the MuseStorm service enables aggregation and caching of XML based data, re-formatting of data into new formats (e.g. web widgets, desktop widgets), distribution of reformatted data and tracking and analysis of distribution. MuseStorm uses mostly open-source software such as Linux, mySQL, and Java. Our servers are Java based.

What has been the response of developers and publishers to your service so far?
When we launched the updated SDK in June 2006 we added tutorials. The AJAX desktop tutorial was picked up on Digg and made it to the homepage (2000+ votes) – the outcome was huge interest. But usage of the SDK is limited as we have mainly invested in the widgets since. The response to the widgets was fantastic – more than 1000 blogs and websites are using the free widgets.

What are the most popular categories in your Widget Central?
The RSS feed widget (which let’s users pull any RSS to their webpage) and YouTube Video widget.

How do you see widgets and our use of them evolving?
We believe widgets are going to be an important tool for branding and marketing. More and more publishers/content owners will realize that widgets increase their brand recognition and drive traffic back to their website and will use them. We also believe that widgets are more effective than AdSense in generating clickthrough (and we have stats of course).

What more do widgets bring to a user’s website or blog?
More than anything – widgets enrich a user’s website with relevant dynamic content without having to code.

The iPhone is a great example of widget integration on mobile and smart phones. Do you believe this to be the key platform for the future of widgets?
Mobile is the future of personal computing, definitely. Nokia already has Widsets which are mobile widgets (which we will support later this year). I think, however, that it will take time before the handset will become a platform that is convenient for widget usage.

Social networks like MySpace are known to be very reluctant (see rumor) of having external applications like widgets on their site. How do you hope to get around that?
Actually MySpace allows almost any widget to be embedded on their site, including MuseStorm (and we have some exciting things planned for MySpace…). The main problem is them blocking outgoing links from widgets, something that we believe we can solve by having a direct dialog with them.

What are Musestorm’s goals for this year?
Our goal is to become the publisher’s partner in providing content distribution services, be it Web, Desktop or Mobile widgets and other distribution channels we are working on.

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