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In obscure Googlese, the "answer" is:
How do elements differ from gadgets?
Elements are Google-created objects that let you embed Google products and services, such as Maps, News, and Web Search, on your own sites. Gadgets are created by Google and by third-party developers, and offer a wide variety of content and services.
This is great for quickly adding extra functionality on simple websites.
I'd guess there are millions of simple Web sites that don't have developers to add features like these. Sounds like a great way for Google to continue building Webmaster loyalty and brand awareness.
These little embed web-toys are laughable now, but 20 years from now, we will all be walking around with calenders embeded in our foreheads.
[edited by: Slinger at 11:46 pm (utc) on June 4, 2009]