APIs provide a scalable way to do business development and create partnerships. “BizDev 2.0. I call it”. [Caterina Fake, Flickr Cofounder]
APIs proved to be a great way to get traction for your product in the early days of web2.0 – especially among the developer community which also happened to be the early adopter of your product(s).
Facebook, Google (esp. Maps) and Twitter maxed this opportunity and grabbed a good mindshare among the developer community.
Welcome. The API Gangsters
Since 2012, a lot has changed with respect to how companies look at API model. For instance:
– Google Maps started charging for API usage (2011 onwards).
– Twitter turned out to be the API gangster.
The company owes a lot to developers. A lot more than Google and Facebook.
Developers built Twitter clients for different OS/platforms (the official web experience was nothing great to talk about) and lived with instability of Twitter during the early days.
The company, while preparing for IPO took on developers who were trying to ‘replicate the core experience’ and went on blocking developers who came between any possible revenue opportunity.
“Developers have told us that they’d like more guidance from us about the best opportunities to build on Twitter. More specifically, developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.” [official statements].
Plus, the limit of 100,000 token-limit was a clear message that don’t build anything serious using Twitter API as a core model.
The real rule, if Twitter was honest and direct, is simple: “We don’t permit anyone to exceed the limit unless we feel like it.” But even then, it would be stupid for anyone to build a business on Twitter with such unstable footing. And if your plan is to stay under the 100,000-token limit, you’d be a fool to believe in the safety and longevity ofthat exemption.
The effective rule, therefore, is even simpler: “Don’t build anything for Twitter.” [Developer, Marc/source]
Chirp and F8. No More.
The last Twitter developer conference, Chirp was held in 2010.
Similarly, Facebook has stopped F8 conference which was last held in 2011.
The End of APIGasm
Look at how search interest for Facebook/Twitter API has dropped over the last 2 years.
Genuinely speaking, Twitter/Facebook and Google have effed up the API space and developers are left with very little trust in companies who are marketing their API as the nextbigwhat of ‘build cool stuff using our data/features’.
What’s Left for Startups?
If you are a startup building an API (as a business development model) play, your chances of building a serious ecosystem using API has gotten tougher.
By serious play, I am talking about building an ecosystem beyond the coolness of showcasing your APIs in hackathons; instead inviting some of the creative minds to build impactful products on top of your API.
The APIgasm is over. Atleast for now. Maybe, companies need to find better ways to get developers excited about the product? What are your thoughts? Do you think signing up exclusive agreements with key developers will help?
[Image credit: shutterstock]