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Yahoo Purchases Konfabulator 302

Posted by Zonk
from the widgets-for-sale dept.
NerdyPunk2ML writes "Macworld news has an article about Yahoo's acquisition of Konfabulator, which will be announced Monday. Yahoo company executives said they will be giving Konfabulator away for free, completely doing away with the US$19.95 currently charged for the product. The reason they purchased Konfabulator was they wanted an easy way to open up its APIs to the developer community and allow them easy access to the information on the Yahoo web site." From the article: "The acquisition of Konfabulator may not be the last Mac compatible product users see from Yahoo! While Schneider wasn't specific, he did say that there was interest in the Mac. 'There is a move at Yahoo! -- in addition to Konfabulator -- to move more onto the Mac,' said Schneider. 'We want to make sure we find a way to be more cross platform.'"
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Yahoo Purchases Konfabulator

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  • Cheap buy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chmarr (18662) on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:33AM (#13153967)
    I'm sure the fact that Konfabulator's 'buy out price' went WAY down after Tiger, and Dashboard, were released has NOTHING, no, NOTHING AT ALL to do with this sale :)
    • Re:Cheap buy? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ceeam (39911) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:02AM (#13154047)
      I wonder whether more Konfabulator copies were actually sold for Windows than for Macs?
    • Re:Cheap buy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:22AM (#13154115) Homepage
      Well it was there all this time and code is so mature that there are Tiger owners buying it.

      If I liked things like Dashboard, I'd go for Konfabulator too.

      They went win32 in weeks after Apple included same functionality with the OS.

      Also don't forget one thing. We, geeks use latest and greatest OS when it ships but many people currently run 10.3 and even 10.2.8. It can run on them.

      Well I call this "Happy ending". I don't have spesific "hate" against Apple as zealots assume, I am an Apple user myself. Just I think they should make them a favor, not money or something, credit or a name mention.

      Just seek how EA (electronic arts) was founded, you will be surprised.

      This is happy ending I think. Everyone is happy including licensed customers of Konf.

      ps: For people jumping and saying "They didn't invent it!' etc, I was running Active Desktop at IE 4 times on win32
    • Come on now, who can resist a product named.

      Konfabulatorahoo!

      This makes me happy, since I have been very unhappy with apples implementation. Many widgets such as iTunes widgets and weather widgets are pretty worthless when they don't say up all the time. Why bring up Dashboard to then get the itunes widget to click "next" when you could just click on itunes. Konfabulator had is right with widgets being able to stay on the desktop all the time.
  • by soapdog (773638) on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:35AM (#13153974) Homepage
    Heh, I know Google will now buy Apple to get hands on Dashboard, way better than konfab... /me fells insightfull
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:37AM (#13153983)
    And the CEO's new job title, "Director of Widget Technology"! What a step up.
  • by spooje (582773) <spooje@nOSpAM.hotmail.com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:38AM (#13153984) Homepage
    This is great news for Yahoo lovers. Konfabulator was a super easy for non-programmers to make great little apps for the Mac. I'd love to to see what these things can do if you're able to hook them into the full range of Yahoo information/services.

    I wonder if this is at the urging of Yahoo Japan? Here Yahoo is the most popular portal and search engine. I've heard Mac sales, not including the iPod, are way up so maybe there's some pressure to make things more cross platform?

    • Surely Yahoo is doing this the wrong way round though:

      You say:

      I'd love to to see what these things can do if you're able to hook them into the full range of Yahoo information/services.

      Surely what is needed is for Yahoo to publish a rich, well documented set of APIs, rather like Google* has done - this would let any desktop software (Konfabulator, Dashboard, Linux stuff, whatever) access the information.

      Instead it seems that Yahoo has decided against this and instead is insulating its core APIs by on
  • Konfabulator ?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeet81 (613099) on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:45AM (#13154003)
    Took me some time to figure out what Konfabulator actually is.

    After fiddling around with the website I found this:
    Konfabulator is a JavaScript runtime engine for Windows and Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to.

    Hope that helps someone.

    • I know some of you use this product already. What are cool widgets you're running on? I am curious what's out there.

      I still run Mac OS X 10.2.8 on my old PowerBook G4 so I wonder if I am missing out with these goodies.
  • by aftk2 (556992) on Monday July 25, 2005 @01:52AM (#13154019) Homepage Journal
    While Schneider wasn't specific, he did say that there was interest in the Mac. 'There is a move at Yahoo! -- in addition to Konfabulator -- to move more onto the Mac,' said Schneider. '

    I don't find this surprising. Lately, it seems that Yahoo has been getting some of the positive internet buzz that used to be reserved solely for Google. I imagine that releasing products specifically for Mac users is aimed at garnering similar buzz.

    While Macs have a relatively small share of the market, they are, however, well represented among popular bloggers, technorati (ugh) and the mavens of the web: inform or impress these folks, and you will begin to inform and impress the rest of the web. This is a move to grab mindshare.
    • by jesterzog (189797) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:33AM (#13154144) Homepage Journal

      I don't find this surprising. Lately, it seems that Yahoo has been getting some of the positive internet buzz that used to be reserved solely for Google.

      They're definitely providing at least a couple of services which I'm surprised that Google isn't heavily involved in just yet.

      One of them is YahooGroups [yahoo.com], for running mailing lists (along with several additional group-like features latched on). I guess Yahoo picked up a lot of this market by default, especially after Listbot [listbot.com] was shut down by Microsoft. The other is Yahoo Calendar [yahoo.com], which I'm admittedly only just starting to play with, but I'm finding it useful.

      The biggest reason that I'm surprised Google hasn't touched these areas is that they're both very search-oriented, or can be. Just about everything Google's done in the past has been based around some kind of searching, or generally helping people to find things. That's where Google's expertise is.

    • It would help the perception even more if they'd finally update Yahoo IM for crap sake (currently 2 years old software with a hobbled feature set).
  • Clutter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheStonepedo (885845) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:01AM (#13154045) Homepage Journal
    I can't see the purpose of a weather function on the desktop or perhaps a news ticker. All of the clutter of widgets cannot be worth the slight gain in functionality. A well-organized homepage with links/bookmarks should do the trick. A click or two to launch and use a browser are worth saving desktop real estate on a low-res (1024x768) LCD like mine.
    • Re:Clutter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by coldmist (154493) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:46AM (#13154187) Homepage
      I've played around with it a bit. I have it on my laptop. The widgets are showing battery (much, much nicer than the stupid default windows one), wifi stength, disk usage, and weather.

      Of these, only the weather one "could" be shown through a browser.

      I have mine set to only be seen as part of the background, so none of the widgets are on top of any windows. But they are visible if all windows are minimized

      My only complaint is the memory footprint (20MB just for the engine, plus 1-5MB per widget), and some widgets are CPU hogs, causing my battery to drain faster than usual (one of the battery monitors!) and cpu to stay hotter.
    • I like using the battery and wireless signal strength widgets, set to 10% opacity and small up in the corner, for example...
  • I bought it about a week ago. It's nice, but this blows. How do I look on the bright side of this? I could use that $20.
  • Honestely... name another service with so much free stuff (that's actually useful). There's email, fantasy sports, chat, IM, photo storage, stocks, streaming stocks for $10 a month, and the list goes on and on. Konfabulator is awesome, if MicroSoft had released it, it would cost $69.95 in the form of an OS update. Praise Yahoo!!
  • They post this PR, and won't let you download the damn product. The downloads page on the main site sends you to the index of the main site when you click on the download links. I'm trying to download your stupid widget factory, not look at the cartoon of how awesome you are for re-doing widgets on the desktop, you insensitive clods!
  • by mstone (8523) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:31AM (#13154140)
    While I don't care much about Konfabulator per se, it's interesting to see how popular non-browser, web-based mini-apps are becoming. Looks like the first little frothy bit on the wave of the semantic web has arrived. It'll be interesting to see if this ends up generating as much buzz as the last few Next Big Things.

    It certainly has the potential to. It's a platform-independent application framework, just like Java-on-the-browser was supposed to be, but this iteration is free from the one-size-fits-all constraints that browser-based development imposed (plus, widgets don't have to be stateless). In fact, this has all the earmarks of a disruptive technology, with the added advantage that it's based on well-deployed standard technologies.. i.e.: stuff Microsoft can't mess with as easily as Java.
    • I believe you are on to something here. Frankly, I won't do Flash, I won't do Java, and I certainly WON'T do ActiveX. With the exception of ActiveX, all involve rather large, separate downloads whereas Javascript is just there. Also look at Ajax. It just works without anything special being added and it works very well.

      Now admittedly, Javascript as a language sucks rocks but you can depend on it working cross-browser, cross-OS, cross-dang-near-anything, and the user doesn't have to do a thing to get i

      • Now admittedly, Javascript as a language sucks rocks ...

        No argument there..

        I cherish a hope that if this whole thing really does become popular, we'll start to see drop-in modules for other languages. Then people will be able to use Perl, Ruby, Java, Python, or whatever they already like best. Most of the popular interpreted languages today already have pretty good cross-platform support, and it wouldn't be too painful to find subsets that are safe, but replace Javascript.
    • The web is great, but it has two faults: it requires manual effort to monitor updates to content you care about, and when web browser is closed, a web site (such as Yahoo) can't alert you to updates other than by flooding your inbox with more e-mail.

      RSS is helping this, but it's only providing the content. I think people are missing an important point on these Web-based desktop applications: it lets a web site (such as Yahoo) provide content-specific logic with their data to increase traffic.

      RSS: "Her

  • People seem to be looking at this from one side. And that's the Mac side. The first batches of comments seem to stem from folks who are keeping up with the Apple/Mac side of things.

    While the acquisition of Konfabulator and its removal of the pricetag is great news for all users of the program, do note that Konfabulator, while originating on the Mac, also has a competitor on the Windows side. That side has been dominated by Stardock's own DesktopX application where it's been around for quite a while now.
    • Yup. I -highly- doubt Yahoo bought this because they care about MacOS. They really started to focus on Windows development after Apple started pushing Dashboard.

      Dashboard has been a smash hit on MacOS, owning the rights to a Windows equivalent could be a powerful asset.

  • I thought yahoo was cross platform. Java applets, HTML, etc...the usual web browser stuff.

    Maybe Mac in this case simply means not Window, which could imply linux is included?

  • ...but in the end, I just never found anything that useful.

    A weather checking widget? Check. But I have a web browser with a tab to my local weather up at all times anyway.

    A package tracking widget? You bet. But I only have one or two packages to track every year. I always have a tab open to that page.

    A calculator widget? Of course. But it's still slower than asking google, since my web browser is always open.

    Konfabulator (and Dashboard) can do some pretty interesting things, as long as you don't have any other utilities on your machine. Unfortunately, it's unable to consolidate and replace the bunch of utilities that you already have, since you're unlikely to give up big things like your web browser.

    I'm sure there are a bunch of people out there that really like it, and find it super useful. That's awesome. I'm glad someone appreciates the hard work that the Konfabulator (and Dashboard) guys did. I just can't find a single useful widget that isn't better implemented or accessed somewhere else.
    • ...because the widgets only update when the dashboard is visible.

      I share your concern over the need for some widgets when web or utilities work fine. (Wikipedia widget, I'm looking in your direction!)

      There's a dashboard widget called SysStat -- pretty much the same as 'top' or 'Activity Monitor' -- but unlike those, it only uses CPU when dashboard is showing. I use this thing an awful lot...
    • A weather checking widget? Check. But I have a web browser with a tab to my local weather up at all times anyway.

      Screw that. I live in Los Angeles, where the weather's the same all the time anyways.

    • A weather checking widget? Check. But I have a web browser with a tab to my local weather up at all times anyway.

      Wow. Slashdotters are the only people that when you say "open the window" to they immediately turn to their computers.

  • by Sundroid (777083) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:47AM (#13154190) Homepage
    Here is a better article on the news: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/aptech_stor y.asp?category=1700&slug=Yahoo%20Konfabulator [nwsource.com]

    It says Konfabulator has only three employees!!! Now we know which three households have champagnes popping tonight.
  • by Bright_Steel (87763) on Monday July 25, 2005 @02:53AM (#13154207)
    I'm really disappointed Yahoo has left Yahoo messanger to rot on the vine.
    No Supermode
    No Audibles
    No new features for years now.

    Yahoo, when are you going to update Messanger for the Mac.
    • Have you tried Adium [adiumx.com]? It's compatible with AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, and more.
      • Adium is cool, but it seems to only support the basics, i.e. no Yahoo Chat (which is full of dolts these days anyway), webcam, voice chat, etc

        Yahoo's own client has webcam support, though there are many ways to crash it while you are serving video, and while doing so, the video tends to stall consistently within 10-15 minutes; voice chat isn't supported at all, as Yahoo uses a Windows-only voice protocol.

        It's a cool multiclient with fun stuff like tabbed IMs, but not ready to replace most other clients fo
  • Oh well (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday July 25, 2005 @03:46AM (#13154349)
    A while back I'd tried Konfabulator after hearing some Mac folks rave about it. Basically (explaining for the non-Mac crowd) it was these eye-candy-ful little widgets that would sit on your desktop all the time, showing you the weather, info about an RSS feed, or somesuch stuff. This seemed pretty pointless, since most of the time my desktop is hidden behind all the apps I've got open pretty much whenever my computer is running - but you'd be amazed at the number of Mac users who apparently just leave a blank desktop open so they can stare at it and drool.

    Well, anyway - then along comes Tiger, and Apple announces Dashboard. It's Konfabulator done right - the widgets can be brought into view whenever you actually need them rather than having them hiding back on your desktop. Of course after this announcement, it wasn't long before the Konfabulator guys copied the idea of (gasp!) not having the widgets hidden back there - what a concept!

    But you know what? Even Dashboard seems pretty pointless. I've got a web browser open all the time, so it's just as fast to click on my weather bookmark, or go to ups.com to track packages, or leave a tab open to my gmail account all the time (after all, if I get a new message I'm going to have to open it anyway). While Dashboard certainly seems to be a better implementation than Konfabulator, but it's still basically an idea that is of no practical use to me. At least the price is right, either way now...

    • Uhm, I suppose they use Exposé to show the desktop. That's what I do - normally my desktop is totally covered, but when pushing F10, all windows automagically fly away. And for Windows, the closest equivalent would be hidden under the shortcut Windows+D. BTW, I do agree that having the apps on the desktop isn't perfect. It's better like it works in OS X with a separate app desktop...
    • I agree.. Same reason I never bought into Sherlock: I just find it easier to use the actual web page.

      The only Dashboard widget I really use is the one for the Oxford American Dictionary, and that's because it's not available (for free) on the web.
    • Re:Oh well (Score:3, Informative)

      by John Siracusa (4209)

      Of course after this announcement, it wasn't long before the Konfabulator guys copied the idea of (gasp!) not having the widgets hidden back there - what a concept!

      First, Konfabulator widgets could always be layered along with other windows. They were never "stuck on the desktop" (although that is one of the layering options; layering settings are per-widget).

      Second, Konfabulator planned what came to be called "Konsposé" long before anyone knew about Dashboard. It just so happened that Dash

    • It's Konfabulator done right - the widgets can be brought into view whenever you actually need them rather than having them hiding back on your desktop.

      You could always use Expose' to do that. Trust Apple to come up with a new scheme that makes it impossible to have a widget that you want to keep an eye on sitting around all the time.

      Ah well, hopefully someone will come up with a Dashboard/Konfabulator "Amnesty" hack that will let you use both kinds of widgets from whatever interface you want. There's al
    • You dont get it. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Viewsonic (584922)
      You say you have all these tabs open in a browser. The entire idea of dashboard is to have all this info available to you at a single glance. When I hit F12 on my Mac, my dashboard pops up and I have an animated weather map, a doppler radar, all the latest earthquakes overlayed on a world map, a current listing of the gas prices in a 5 mile radius of me, current CNN and Slashdot headlines, and a complete rundown on all my vital system statisics.

      I get all this current information the second I hit F12, it ta

  • Rivalry/Adoption (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Monday July 25, 2005 @04:36AM (#13154507)
    It's not hard to see Yahoo dropping support for their Dashboard widgets now that they have Konfabulator. The question is which one will become the better?

    Konfabulator will be free and cross platform. Dashboard is part of OSX. Running both just seems real redundant to me. Konfabulator may attract a much larger following of developers simply because it's available to Windows users, and the fact Yahoo's widgets will at some point only run on Konfabulator (not that someone else could probably come up with an unoffical one).

    If a converstion tool is made to transfer Dashboard Widgets to Konfabulator Widgets, you may soon see people moving over to Konfabulator. Will the original third party product find itself overbearing the one in your system you can't remove (for Mac users)? Then again, Dashboard widgets run as separate processes (each one) so an empty dashboard prolly uses little if any system resources. It's also a possibility someone will write a converstion tool to move Konfabulator Widgets back to Dashboard.

    It will be interesting to see how much malicious widgets become a problem on the Windows side once Konfabulator becomes free and adopted more widely.
    • One hopes they turn off the registration code soon. :)

      Also, not specifically related to Konfabulator...

      Once the download finishes, a disk image will be mounted automatically.

      I hope that everyone has already disabled automatic mounting of downloaded disk images, along with all other "open safe files after download"-style actions. :)
  • "'There is a move at Yahoo! -- in addition to Konfabulator -- to move more onto the Mac,' said Schneider."

    Which is kind of funny to me, since Konfabulator seemed to be making a slow move from the Mac to Windows since Dashboard was so similar. Still, Konfabulator is a nice piece of software (although its name makes it sound like it should be part of KDE), and free is always nice. Let's hope that Yahoo is good about maintaining it.
  • long time coming... (Score:4, Informative)

    by johnrpenner (40054) on Monday July 25, 2005 @07:43AM (#13154940) Homepage

    in the pre-OSX days, arlo was known by millions of macintosh
    users for making 'Kaleidoscope' - it basically let users of
    above-average graphic skill to theme the entire mac OS
    interface down to the pixel without a lot of programming
    knowledge. this was way ahead of anything that was done
    in windows or linux. millions of mac users had custom UIs
    because of this man.

    but such a theme manager was closely tied with OS9,
    and so when time came time for OSX, arlo started an even
    more clever hack -- konfabulator.

    now this was already very close to what apple always had with
    desk accessories, but it was javascriptable (whereas DAs required
    a separate development environment to compile); they were
    internet enabled (desk accessories only lived in the time before
    the internet); and they also had a really nice photoshop-able
    front end (DAs couldn't utilize quickdraw as nicely as OSX's
    incredible quartz graphics); and because CPUs were finally
    fast enough, you could run them interpreted instead of
    compiled.

    these factors made konfabulator really nifty for quick, beautiful,
    useful little utilities. but they fell too closely to apple's own revival
    of the desk accessory concept, and so it looked like all of arlo's
    hard work had all the chance of a netscape against a bundled browser.

    so now yahoo buys them up, they all still got jobs, and it opens up
    possiblities for them better than they ever had before -- this is a
    good fate for these amazing mac developers. they have long been
    a credit to the mac community. its great to see that they've come
    across good fortune at this time. congratulations arlo & team!!
    we love ya!
    j.

  • Great! But... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cinematique (167333) on Monday July 25, 2005 @08:01AM (#13154988)
    I'll leave the debate over Konfabulator vs. Dashboard to the other kids... here's what I'm upset about...

    "The acquisition of Konfabulator may not be the last Mac compatible product users see from Yahoo! While Schneider wasn't specific, he did say that there was interest in the Mac. 'There is a move at Yahoo! -- in addition to Konfabulator -- to move more onto the Mac,' said Schneider. 'We want to make sure we find a way to be more cross platform.'"

    OK, great. So start by making it possible to browse everything on Yahoo from a Mac! It's really annoying getting a message that my browser (nay, platform) isn't supported by a website. It's not like I'm using an obscure operating system like OS/2 or something.

    Furthermore, I'm a cross-platform guy. I grew up using Macs & PCs, though I definitely prefer OSX. Recently, I've found a new love for my old Dell Latitude simply because of the awesomeness that is Yahoo Music Unlimited. What sucks is that I can't use it on my iBook.

    For those who don't know, for less than the cost of a case of beer every month, Y! Unlimited is, essentially, a music on-demand system with DRM that's easy to live with. Personally, it's not very important that I "own the music." What's important to me is that I've discovered new music in a way I've missed since the original Napster was destroyed. Only LAUNCHcast and Y! Unlimited is WAY better than everything out there that's currently like it (I'm looking at you remixed Napster and Rhapsody.)

    Sure, the download catalog isn't as deep as iTunes Music Store... but I'm sure the gap will eventually shrink. Yahoo is a large company with enough resources to make that happen.

    LAUNCHcast, Yahoo's "radio" service, lets me rate music then taylors future songs to my preferences and tastes. It basically serves songs up on the fly without ads. It's really fucking slick.

    At any rate, I wish they'd offer Y! Unlimited (or more to the point, Yahoo Music Engine) for OS X, but since it uses WM9 and whatever portable management system requires WinXP, I'm guessing that a port to Macs will probably never materialize. Which is too bad. I'd love to be able to use YME with Airfoil so I could stream it to my Airport Express... without Virtual PC.

    A guy can dream...
  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Monday July 25, 2005 @10:16AM (#13155901)

    For those asking the obligatory question: "But does it run on Linux?", the answer is "No, but..".

    Linux (and BSD) have gDeskLets [gnomedesktop.org] which provides the exactly the same/similar functionality with arguably more applications available for it.

    It is these two exact projects which spurned the creation of Apple's "Dashboard" product available in Tiger.

  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Monday July 25, 2005 @11:33AM (#13156592) Journal
    Let's take a closer look at this. Yahoo! started as a portal and search engine. Remember the search engine wars? Then Google came along. Back then it was just another search engine (that kinda rocked). However, while we saw search engines come and go (shall we list all the search engines that came to be...and how most of them are gone?) Google didn't sit on it's laurels. They found a profitable way to make money from its searches. Not content with that, they went into other services (maps, blogs, Picasa, toolbars, etc) so people will think of Google for more than searches (sort of like their own "halo effect"...Google is always on their mind). More success for Google. More obscurity for Yahoo. Yahoo, once the Internet's poster child, is not pleased with this and certainly doesn't want to go the way of the other dotcoms, figures adding a whole slew of new features (toolbar, Konfabulator, etc) and mimicking Google is a good way to go. Thus, a new era of "wars" is born.

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