28 Jul 2005
Companies like Yahoo! and Google are only too aware that however compelling and successful their web services/applications are, grabbing space on the desktop is hugely important. As I mentioned last year, when Windows Vista launches Microsoft will have a shiny new desktop to promote its online services on, ranging from search to multimedia. Most users stick with what’s easily within reach; look at how many never change their IE home page from the default and end up using MSN services more as a result.
So I think Yahoo!’s made a smart move in buying up an application that many users seem to really like having on their desktops (and even those who don’t continue to use it often think it’s pretty cool). As long as they don’t smother it in too much hard sell (scaring off developers) it’ll be great for promoting their instant messaging, email, search and games.
Meanwhile, Macromedia’s Central (a system for delivering Flash-based applications) still feels like it’s going nowhere over six months since I slagged it off in disappointment. In that time they could’ve learned from Konfabulator/Dashboard, shipped a simplified refocused product and paid developers to produce a set of lightweight entertainment-orientated apps to woo wary users (they might want Flash to be seen as a serious development platform, but users currently associate it almost exclusively with entertainment). Interestingly, the two areas Yahoo! Widgets doesn’t cover well are multimedia and e-commerce, and Adobe/Macromedia seemingly has a good relationship with Yahoo!, so perhaps there’s still time for Central to ‘decentralise’…