Widgets & tapping into the ecosystem

One of the reasons I am widget-focused is that creating and distributing widgets redefines or rebalances the how to acquire traffic/drive people to your destination problem.
Rather than figure out how to drive XX more people to YY service in order to get your *new thing* (or “old thing”, for that matter) used, widgets and the APIs that support them offer low-cost, viral ways to increase diostribution and access by letting your users embed your services where they hang out.
To put it another way, when you create widgets to distribute on Facebook, you’re offering your applets to 25 million users; on the Yahoo Network, you’d be reaching even more (assuming Yahoo went the Facebook route and opened its APIs to developers and ramped up its strategy*). (Note, that in a way, Yahoo pioneered all this–when Scott Gatz and team added RSS widgets to MyYahoo back in 2003, they broke new ground in the portal space with that vision–the Facebook play is a broad and well-orchestrated play in a similar vein.)
One question developers have to ask themselves (after all, widgets are just the latest manifestation of trends toward distributing tools and services that have been evolving for the last 3-4 years) is whether making their tools available on their own sites for *transport* to another platform really works.
How many people have screwed up pasting in those lines of code LinkedIn and other services offer to create badges ? (I have).
One of the nice touches of the Facebook widget play is that they’ve done the deals to put the brands right there; another is it’s all neatly wrapped, like adding feeds to Bloglines.
If I was the business owner of a product/destination service that had 4-10 million users or more, I’d be spinning it both ways–looking to upgrade my own APIs so developers and third parties can import widgets into my world (this what the tabs on browsers were supposed to do, but no one really liked that), AND I’d be evaluating which ecosystems I should join and checking out–and building to–those APIs LIKE CRAZY.
And then I’d continue working on my SEM and SEO strategy, and optimizing my service like crazy, cause, as you probably know, there just ain’t any silver bullet that can solve for everything.
(*Disclaimer: I work in Personals, remember, not strategy, so this is an obvious but hypothetical statement for you all.)