Yahoo acquires 'widget' engine

Acquisition of Konfabulator is a move to spur third-party developers to devise new applications for the Internet giant's services.

Yahoo has acquired software "widget" engine Konfabulator in a move to spur third-party developers to devise new applications for the Internet giant's services.

Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine that lets people run very small applications, or widgets, on either Windows or Macintosh systems. Konfabulator is owned by parent company Pixoria, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up founded in 2003.

Yahoo plans to run the widgets via XML feeds. The applications can perform any of a range of functions, from informing people of their Wi-Fi signal strength to dishing up the local weather to providing a battery monitor, according to a notice posted on Konfabulator's Web site.

"When we first thought of Konfabulator, one of the key pieces was accessing Internet content. Well guess what Yahoo has boatloads of?" Konfabulator said on its site. "And what's really great is that they're starting to open it up to everyone in a format that's useable outside the traditional browser, as XML feeds."

According to Konfabulator, the acquisition also marks the formal launch of Yahoo's Developer Network.

"Since we're kick-starting Yahoo's Developer Network, this means our current Konfabulator community will become the founding members of Yahoo's Developer community," according to a posting on Konfabulator's site.

A Yahoo representative said that the company had a developer network prior to its Pixoria acquisition, but that with this deal, Yahoo plans to formalize its relationship with developers.

Konfabulator, which had charged rates from $19.95 for a single user license to $2,500 for a worldwide site license, said that its service will now be free and that it will refund purchases of its version 2.0 or later.

Yahoo's acquisition comes as it is looking for ways to get outside developers more involved with writing applications for its content and putting greater pressure on its archrival Google. Both companies, for example, started sharing their respective code for their mapping service with third-party developers this summer .

Apple Computer, which also offers a widgets dashboard , got into a heated debate with Konfabulator last summer over the concept and its use.

According to a Yahoo representative, the deal closed Tuesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

 

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