After I wrote a questioning bit about the Bitty Browser ("Picture-in-picture for the Web: Is it needed? Doesn't it compete with RSS?"), that I saw at PC Forum, I got a quick e-mail reply from the company's CEO, Scott Matthews. He has answers for my questions, which I've edited for length. Note that Scott references a column I recently wrote, stating that the Web is becoming a collection of modules, not pages. Clever, turning me against myself like that.
Q: Is it needed? A: "First, regular 'full-size' browser navigation is useful. Second, people like to build sites out of blocks of content (I don't need to convince you of that). Those two are not mutually exclusive. And navigable blocks have considerably more potential than flat blocks."
Q: Doesn't it compete with RSS? A: "It provides you with another way to work with RSS content; for example, people often add RSS feeds to their sites (that is, in a block, as mentioned above) but you typically just get a list of headlines, and clicking them takes you away from the page you're on. With Bitty, you can point it at an RSS feed, and then browse and read the contents of the feed while remaining in-context."
I stopped by Scott's exhibit at PC Forum and got a full demo of his technology. I came in thinking that pop-up browser windows, tabs, and framed Web pages did enough for us, but I now think he's onto something. He's built a way to embed one entire site into another, which could be useful as the modular Web gets built out.
I think he has a lot of work to do with design, though. If you embed a site designed for a full PC interface into a tiny window, it looks awful. However, you can easily embed a WAP or cell phone site (such as CNET's Mobile site, m.cnet.com) into a small window, and it's a pretty cool effect. Another person watching the demo thought Scott should modify the look and feel of his window frame to look like a cell phone, which would telegraph to the user that there's a micro Web site embedded within it. I thought that was an excellent idea.
Final verdict: Very cool idea, needs some artistic and business development.