Widget mania run amok?

For past few days there has been an amazing amount of chatter about widgets – which are transforming themselves into advertising widgets, billboards and what not. Earlier today, for instance Mpire introduced shopping widgets that tap into say eBay and Amazon, and let you sell goods via Mpire widgets.

As the buzz (or the hype, depending on which side of the debate you sit) reaches cacophonic levels, the big question is: how many damn widgets can you put on your blog or on your MySpace. (According to some estimates, 40% MySpace users have 3.2 widgets on their page!)

The amount of space on a web page, contrary to popular belief is pretty limited. Widgets, it seems are going to face the same challenge as the denizens of Iconistan, those little icons that actually came between the readers and the content. The widget ecosystem might have attracted a lot of money and attention, but not many users. If you checked out WidgetBox, a good proxy for the ecosystem, a typical popular widget has about 300-to-500 subscribers. And amongst those that are popular, they are the ones, which have an element of personal expression.

David Cohen, put it aptlywhen he wrote, “provide something useful to the publisher so they’ll go out of their way to place your brand all over their property.”

A Last.fm widget on my blog, or a little twitter widget (as used by Martin) and Slide.com’s slide shows on MySpace are very different from Mpire.com’s commercial widgets. These are precisely the widgets that are built to last, and have worked well as audience-boosting and branding tools. Will it translate into dollars?

That’s precisely the question one has for commercially oriented widgets. If it is about money, then the money had to be more than what Google is putting a price on.AdSense-widgets are pretty much the barometer now, and if history of advertising is any indication, it is hard to find traction against Google’s money promise.