There has been plenty of public noise about Apple’s iTunes App Store for iPhone users. Already over 30,000 apps are available on the store, and around 1-billion downloads.
That’s good news for iPhone users but what about Mac users and Dashboard Widgets? There are thousands of Widgets available; some great, some good, some not so much. Does Apple care about Dashboard Widgets anymore?
Probably, but not so much as App Store applications and utilities since Apple actually makes a little money, and those tens of thousands of apps help to sell millions of iPhones.
What about the Dashboard Widgets? Apple doesn’t make any money on Widgets. Widgets don’t actually do much to help sell Apple’s Macs. So, why should our favorite Cupertino gadget company care?
That’s a good question because, at least recently, it seems as if Apple doesn’t care much about some of the features in OS X. Remember Sherlock?
Apple’s Dashboard Widgets have a place, and nearly everyone I know who is a Mac user also uses a few, sometimes more, Widgets. I have my favorites. Do you?
Of course you do. But have you ever paid money for a Widget for your Mac? If you’re an iPhone user, have you paid money to download a new app or utility from iTunes Store? Of course you have.
iPhone apps and utilities are not much more than Dashboard Widgets on steroids. One of the main differences is in the use of a Widget vs. the use of an iPhone app.
Widgets are for quick, instant gratification; a quick look at status, a click or two from getting something else done, then, just as quickly, going back to the Mac to do real work.
iPhone apps are more like mini-Mac applications than they are Widgets, though both are easy to obtain; the former from iTunes, and the latter from Apple’s download section.
Generally speaking, iPhone apps and utilities are designed to separate iPhone users from their money. True, there are free apps, though many are simply lite versions of an app that may cost money, though the price may be low.
That means there’s an economic incentive for developers to create apps and utilities for iPhone users. After all, 30-million iPhone and iPod touch users are choosing about a billion apps from a collection of over 30,000 on the Store.
What of the Mac’s Dashboard Widget? What’s the economic incentive for a developer to care enough to create a Widget?
Not much. Apple cares enough to provide web site space for Widgets, but it’s not much of a lucrative market for developers.
Who pays for a Widget? Who pays for iPhone apps? Not many for the former, everyone for the latter.
Maybe the Dashboard Widget market is like the drug market. Mac developers cut their programming teeth on Dashboard Widgets and then move on to more serious applications for the iPhone.
Widgets are cute, handy, worthwhile, but not essential to making the Mac experience.