State of the Google Gadget ecosystem

Last week the Google Gadgets team released page view numbers for gadgets in its directory, giving outsiders their glimpse of gadget activity across Google Personalized Homepage, Google Desktop, and syndicated throughout the web through Google Gadgets For Your Page. Over the weekend I crawled the entire Google Gadget directory, collecting information about every listed gadget to create a better and more complete understanding of a widget/gadget ecosystem including its level of health, geographic diversity of authors and supported users, popular categories, and some of the most popular gadget programming methods (just to name a few). In this post I’ll share some statistics on the Google Gadgets ecosystem from a business point of view. Tomorrow I will post details and statistics about ways Google Gadget developers are going beyond the basics with features designed to reach a worldwide audience and deliver a smaller footprint inside these rich Internet applications.

Note: This analysis is based on all gadgets listed in the Google Gadgets directory on Saturday, March 3, 2007. I am capturing ongoing values and may do more with this data over time. Directory listings were received directly from the public directory after receiving permission from Google. Gadget source code was pulled from individual publishers.

  1. Total and active
  2. Authors
  3. Top 10 gadgets
  4. Top categories
  5. Summary

Total and active gadgets

  • There are currently 4,226 gadgets registered in the Google Gadgets directory.
  • 56% of all Google Gadgets listed in the directory have 500 or more views in the past week throughout the Google ecosystem.
  • 8% of all Google Gadgets were either offline or contained invalid XML markup.

Authors can submit their completed gadget to Google for inclusion in the directory, placing their content as close as a link away from the Google Personalized Homepage and Google Desktop. Google stores a local copy of each gadget for dependency and to reduce external loads, which keeps some of the 8% of observed failures humming along just fine.

Web widget competitors

Web widgets by platform March 2007

Google currently has three-times the number of web widgets available in its directory than Netvibes, Windows Live, and Pageflakes combined.

Google Gadget authors

Google Gadget authors in Europe

There are 2,009 authors producing Google’s 4,226 gadgets. Gadget authors are distributed around the globe, including Columbia, Iran, and Nigeria. Most gadgets are created in the United States and Europe, Google’s two strongest markets.

Authors receive a link and a listing on Google.com and Google domains throughout the world. A weighted link from Google domains is a prize itself, but surprisingly only 100 gadget authors (5%) have taken advantage of this promotional opportunity.

Google Earth users can browse the world’s Google Gadget authors using this KML file.

Top Ten Google Gadgets

Google served up over 700 million gadget views last week, including over 400 million gadget views (57%) from its top 10 gadgets.

Top 10 Google Gadgets
Week Ending March 3, 2007
Google GadgetViews
(000)
Date & Time130,290
Google Calendar91,491
Driving Directions38,615
Google Map Search31,460
Daily Horoscopes27,382
Wikipedia27,314
Google Videos22,375
To-Do List14,583
Word of the Day13,645
Dictionary.com12,520

Google produces seven of the top ten gadgets in its ecosystem. Two of the top gadgets are produced by fans of an information service, Wikipedia and Word of the Day. Gadget promotion by Google and third-parties can heavily influence a gadget’s popularity and each dictionary site likely receives a large number of referrals from its 13 million weekly gadget views.

The median Google gadget received about 6,000 gadget views last week, far from the average of 300,000.

Google Gadgets by category

Google Gadgets category distribution

Most Google Gadgets (80%) fall into the tools, fun & games, or lifestyle categories. The tools category is productivity-focused, helping users track their latest shared documents in Google Docs or search the yellow pages. The tools category is also a bit of a catch-all and therefore makes sense as a top category. The fun & games category helps people play Tetris, Pac-Man, or Sudoku from their homepage or blog sidebar. The lifestyle category features content such as recipes, a photo of the day, and popular videos.

Gadget authors may specify up to two categories per gadget, meaning some gadgets are counted twice and others not at all.

Summary

  • Google’s gadget platform contains over 4000 submissions, creating specialized content options beyond a web feed remix.
  • Google’s gadget directory contains six times as many entries as its nearest competitor.
  • The top 10 Google Gadgets account for 57% of its reported gadget views across the ecosystem.
  • Productivity tools are the most popular Google Gadgets category, in terms of both gadget count and gadget views.

Tomorrow I’ll dive into popular gadget components and supported features.

8 comments

Commentary on "State of the Google Gadget ecosystem":

  1. John on wrote:

    do you count rss feeds as gadgets ? in this case, netvibes directory would have more gadgets than Google.

    • Niall Kennedy on wrote:

      John,

      Feed counts would be consistent across all widget platforms, as they can all consume the format and render a module.

      I looked at the total number of Google Gadgets, Microsoft Gadgets, Netvibes Modules, and Pageflakes Flakes when gathering total widget counts.

  2. Derek Anderson on wrote:

    The “clip” is the 8th item on the list on Google Reader’s Sharing Feature (the Link you put in your comment)

    Since it is a widget I was wondering if it was possible to track the usage of this as well.

    I was just being curious and interactive. I like conversation and leaving comments seems to be a good way to get conversation…besides you are an expert!

  3. Franck Mahon on wrote:

    Hi Niall

    By 4,226 Google Gadgets do you mean 4,226 gadgets which have been build by developers thanks to Google’s API?
    If I’m not wrong, and as John stated it earlier, their directory is mixing feeds and modules made by third parties.
    It’s easy to see the difference because when adding true gadgets to your homepage you get a gadget warning while with feeds you don’t. (For instance on the first page of the sports category there are 23 feeds but only 1 gadget)

    Even if a feed can be rendered as a module Netvibes does separate them from the rest or we would have 13,193 “gadgets”…

    • Niall Kennedy on wrote:

      Frank,

      Feed counts are not too interesting in this context, since you could load the feed in any web widget platform. Although there are specialized feed reading widgets for each platform that might drive usage, showing photos as a slideshow or a better video viewer for example, I didn’t look at the feed widgets at all.

      My numbers are based on Google Gadget modules. More specifically, these are pieces of content using the Google Gadget XML structure. As one example, the author information I gathered (2,009 unique) are attributes of the ModulePrefs element in the gadget code.

      That said, it is possible to write a widget/gadget/module that just requests a feed from the local proxy (_IG_FetchFeedAsJSON) and displays the results inside of the module. I run any checks against the Content value to check its length, external libraries, or use of core Google JavaScript methods, but might include that in future crawls.

      Let me know what further information or clarifications you’re interested in and if I’m not currently gathering that data I can possibly alter future crawls to collect and correlate more information.

  4. Chad on wrote:

    What are your thoughts on feasibility of Google gadgets in in business or in government.Also, would this be a decent platform for say creating a mapping of crime statistics in an area?