from Duncan Riley over at TechCrunch:

googgv.pngGoogle has announced the launch of Google Gadget Ventures, a new pilot program that will help fund third-party gadget development and gadget-related businesses.

Google will offer two types of funding: $5,000 grants for gadget developers who want to improve an existing gadget, and $100,000 seed investments for new gadget-related businesses. Applications will be restricted initially to gadget developers who have more than 250,000 pageviews per week on their gadget.

Google aims to “help create an ecosystem where developers can spend more time doing what they love — building great gadgets”. In other words Google wants more gadgets for iGoogle and Google Gadgets and what better way to encourage development than to offer money to gadget builders. It probably goes without saying that this is a smart move by Google; Google’s gadget specific offerings are all smart products but still lag in gadget choice compared to competitors such as Yahoo Widgets, a number of Web OS and Widget specific startups and even OSX.

A full FAQ for the program is available here.

…and yes, you nublets, they are talking about software gadgets/widgets/snippets not hardware gizmos. About a year ago i thought of setting up a rentacoder style gadget developers sales and marketing site. Probably a good idea I didn’t… somehow or other I think that Google would probable have wiped the floor with it, without even noticing.

Oh, and I’d say that Google are looking at a Web 3.0 style service (or at least a distributed content management service) and need the gadgets to deliver content to it. What do you think? Or are they just in a pissing contest with their competitors?