Widget once run anywhere – Opera Widgets on new 3G handsets from KDDI


I could not resist the title :)

Opera today announced that Opera Widgets will be shipped on Toshiba W56T, Sony Ericsson W54S and Sanyo W54SA from KDDI. Branded as “au one Gadget” by KDDI, this is the first time Opera Widgets have shipped on mobile phones.

Opera Widgets are small and often single-purpose applications built using open Web technologies. Users can select widgets, and install it on devices that support Widgets. They provide access to services such as RSS feeds, game results, weather, traffic information, stocks, news, SNS etc.

There are two significant aspects of this announcement

Firstly, Opera widgets run on the device’s idle screen .. As I said in the post On device portals – ODP, Widgets and the Phonetop: The iPhone killer, Saviour of IMS and the future of mobile apps, the first screen and the idle screen will be increasingly battle ground for Widgets.

Secondly, Widgets were also included in the Opera Powered, Internet Channel 2 on the Nintendo Wii that shipped a few weeks ago

This manifestation of Widget once run anywhere is the holy grail of convergence(As I said, I can’t resist the headline!). I have been following the idea of service convergence for a long time now.

The mistake in my previous blog was equating mashups with convergence. Looking back, Widgets are a much more likely driver of client side service convergence. In fact, with the Wii and KDDI announcement from Opera, convergence driven by widgets is a reality.

Convergence is important because – Services driven by open standards are the glue that stop churn and attract new users.

By that I mean

a) A user is not likely to leave an Operator if they are connected into the same service from multiple devices. Hence reducing churn.

b) If the user is exposed to a service from a specific device(say Wii), then if she knows that the same service is also accessible from another device(for example the Phone), she is likely to become a potential new user of the service on the second device(in this case, the phone).

c) Finally, why open standards and widgets? How else do we do achieve convergence across devices? You can’t ‘write once run anywhere’ – there is nothing to ‘write’. It has to be the Web and on limited devices – it has to be widgets based on Web standards.

Interesting to see where this takes us.

With convergence being a priority for Telecoms operators(for example see the work of France Telecom/Orange with iPTV, general discussions of fixed to mobile convergence, the iPhone and so on) – this trend may be much more common soon with Operators seeking ways to differentiate themselves post iPhone


  1. rudster says:

    I have one of those au phones (the W54SA) and I’m afraid that Opera widgets *do not* run on it. So no, it’s not just a rebranded open-standard, it seems to be a locked-down DRMed version (and I’ve confirmed this with kddi–in order to get a widget working on the phone, you must be a corporation, must sign agreements with them, and must get your application approved). You can’t download gadgets from the internet, and the gadgets you do download through kddi’s network can’t be saved to a memory card for investigation.