Better Than RSS: Widget WebClips from Apple

Last week I saw a technology that perfectly illustrates how the web is disrupting media companies’ control of their content, and their business models.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs previewed some new features of a forthcoming upgrade to their operating system. One feature is the ability for anyone to create their own Widgets via a tool called WebClip.

Widgets are small, single function applications that you can access easily. This is built into the Mac operating system, and is available from other providers for PC’s. They are handy little tools. Here are some from Yahoo.

So why is this so darn important? Check this out:

With WebClip, you can go to any website, and easily select a piece of content. In the example above, Steve is choosing the top news stories in Yahoo.

Then, with the click of a single button, your widget has been created. It is a constantly updated snippet of content that is fully interactive. So the Yahoo stories will update, just as they do on Yahoo’s website.

Here is Steve grabbing the daily Dilbert cartoon.

And here are all of his widgets. With the press of a button these pop onto your screen for easy access.

This is not just mindblowing in how it pulls content from outside the control of the content owners’ website, but how simple it is for anyone to do so.

For the content owners, they will not be able to track how many people are viewing their content or how they are using their site, because the content has been lifted from it. And of course, the user will not be exposed to any of the display advertising that may be helping to fund the website.

This also illustrates the failings of RSS. It is complicated to explain what RSS is, and how to set it up. Apple’s WebClip tool is very visual, and simple to use.

Check out this video of Steve Jobs explaining WebClips. Skip ahead to about 50 minutes into the presentation. Very compelling. This feature will be available in October.

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