Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Disney's Vista Gadget Points To Future Of Marketing Widgets

All the buzz here at Microsoft MIX in Vegas is rightly about Silverlight, but one other impressive demo I came across was a Vista gadget (a.k.a. widget) for Disney. Entertainment and Devices Division President Robbie Bach was on the main stage yesterday, talking about marketing Microsoft's connected entertainment services. One of the case studies wheeled out was Disney, which - as The Seattle Times reports - is working with Microsoft and large OEMs selling computers in China to install a software gadget on new PC desktops. The gadget features content meant to attract people to the company's Hong Kong theme park. Bach pointed out that Vista's gadgets (mini web apps that run on your desktop) are a way for brands such as Disney to establish a presence on "some of the most valuable real estate in the home" - i.e. the PC desktop. The Seattle Times goes on:

"The Disney gadget is aimed at an emerging Chinese middle class that does not have the history with the Disney brand that Americans do, said Edward Kummer, a Disney executive in charge of online promotions of the company's parks and resorts.

The gadget is constantly being updated via RSS feeds with news about the theme park and also includes long-format video, itinerary planning tools and other interactive content.

"This is effectively having a Disney application on the PC," Bach said.

No details were provided about the size of the application, the computing resources it uses or whether consumers could remove these branded gadgets."

There is a video of the Disney talk during Bach's presentation, up on the Visit MIX07 site. I've taken a few (rough) screenshots of the Disney gadget from the video, because I think its interactivity and rich real-time data (including video) is a great example of how widgets/gadgets will evolve over the next couple of years. I also expect this kind of interactivity and multimedia in widgets that run in the browser (e.g. Microsoft's own widget platform).

Note that I haven't yet seen the Disney gadget on the Web, so if anyone has a link to it -- please note in the comments.

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