Tuesday, 21 August 2007

iLike widgets?

A few months ago I started to put together my Power to the People presentation for the Prince's Trust Technology Leadership Group's ICT Dinner on 4th Sept 07. A lot of it is about Web 2.0 and the effect, for example, of social networking sites such as Facebook on corporate IT. Research for this led me into the world of Widgets.

Back in May 07 (so, so, long ago in Web 2.0 time) Facebook opened itself up to software developers who could develop simple apps - called Widgets - to 'personalise' your Facebook profile. Many thousands of these have since been developed. Using the viral marketing which makes social networking sites so powerful, you get told every time a "friend" of yours installs such a widget. Some are frivolous (like giving people flowers for their cybergardens). Others are more mainstream.

Prince's Trust TLG members will remember Ashley Highfield - New Media Director at the BBC - back in July telling us all how he had held a special Hacksville day for such developers to help him with the BBC website. He enthused about the iPlayer Widget for Facebook which allowed Facebook users to list their favourite BBC programmes with direct links to the newly launched BBC iPlayer site so they could easily click through and watch the actual programme recommended.

At that time, iLike had just been launched on Facebook. iLike had been launched at the end of last year as a standalone site. It listed concerts and told you which of your friends were attending. It also allowed you to list your favourite music for your friends to 'share'.
It took iLike six months to get 1 million users.

Then in June it launched on Facebook. They signed up 1 million...in the first week. When I started to prepare my presentation at the end of July, iLike had 4 million users and had run out of servers.

Last night I emailed iLike to get the latest figures as my presentation was due at the printers.
I was amazed that iLike now has 10 million users. This must make it the fastest growing application of all time. It took Skype 15 months to get to 10 million users. iLike have achieved that milestone in half the time.

At the risk of disobeying the Rules of How to be a Middle aged Man (see below), I rather like iLike. Knowing what your friends listen to has been eye (or is that ear?) opening. It's not just fun and very easy to use, but it links effortlessly to iTunes and Amazon so you can buy the track for your own collection. An obvious way of monetising for the widget developers.

I suspect that the twentysomething founder of iLike - Hadi Partovi - is, as I write, fending off the multi million bids for iLike. And good luck to him!

My own view is that Facebook is the first social networking site to go 'mainstream'. The first to break out of the sub-24 year old market. 41% of Facebook users are over 35. As that was a May 07 figure, I suspect it is even higher now. As social networking goes mainstream, so Widgets will become very important. Indeed, they already are in fashion, music, entertainment etc. I suspect a lot of fortunes are to be made in Widget development. I also see them crossing into mainstream IT as a very fast, easy and cost effective way of personalling even the most 'boring' corporate site.

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