The allure of widgets is obvious: porting, compatibility testing and code signing are major headaches for developers just trying to create a simple application or piece of content. A well-designed widget architecture promises to take that all away.
I've touched on mobile widget platforms from Bling on Mojax when I wrote about mobile AJAX a few weeks ago, but since then Opera Software has announced Opera 9 Mobile, which will feature a mobile version of Opera Widgets. This is a pretty big deal as Opera already has a large library of desktop widgets and a sizable user base. (The other big new feature announced in Opera 9 Mobile is "intelligent zoom," which sounds a bit like the "pinch zoom" feature in the upcoming iPhone.)
And Opera isn't the only big name trying to get in on the action. Yahoo is trying to leverage its desktop Widget Engine (and the 1,500 existing desktop widgets available for download) with the latest version of Yahoo Go for Mobile. Go for Mobile 2.0 is a downloadable app that includes widgets for weather, breaking news, search and pictures through Flickr.
Another new entrant to the mobile widget arena is Canoo's UltraLightClient (ULC). ULC is best known as a Java-based platform for creating "rich Internet applications." The company just announced ULC Mobile, a J2ME version that can leverage ULC's existing codebase. There is one catch: while many products let developers create widgets for free in order to promote the platform, ULC Mobile has to charge for it. The client is free, but a developer license costs about $5,000.
Next Week: I'll be reporting live from the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. -Eli