API stands for “Application Programming Interface” and at first look seems complicated, instead the concept is pretty simple. Since we founded Mashape, “The first APIs Marketplace”, I thought that could be interesting to share some thoughts.
Imagine that your company is a house, so all of your value (like data) is inside the house, the most important asset. Well, API is just the main door of your house, it allows you to transfer, exchange your data to other companies or single developers, that may need your data/functions to build powerful services and solve their problems.
What does it mean? That you’re creating additional distribution of your product; faster and cheaper than ever.
In more details, APIs can be defined as a set of procedures and functions for accessing an internet application/service (web, mobile, desktop) from another application/service, allowing you to retrieve data of various type. API is not (only) for Information Technology experts; given the current structure of the web, do not have an idea of what an API is and how big could be the potential, even within the marketing strategies, could be limiting.
As an example Ebay was the first to distribute their content through a set of APIs, it has allowed the development of third-party applications that help power sellers to manage the flow of sales, Amazon is among leading provider of web services distributed via an API, not to mention Facebook and Twitter. Twitter in particular, owes much of its growth and of his own fortune to applications that interfaces with their system API to retrieve not only data but also to enter new ones in the stream of communication: think of many clients through which users are “tweeting” usually.
Twitter has managed to kick off a virtuous cycle that, by selling part of its values in the content produced by its users, it gets back an amount “exponentially” higher in terms of visibility, awareness and reach. But above all stands in the enviable position as a distributor of content, position from which the business depends on many other companies.
Back in ’90 websites were having just one distribution channel (HTML), now thanks to the API they can reach thousands of users through an API being available everywhere, anyone can become an ubiquity platform. Moreover back in ’90 there were just simple websites, now we have web, mobile and devices applications running through the internet.
Everything will be connected to internet, even your toaster. Information will be available in a “liquid” format, means that it can assume the most useful shape for a particular situation or need. The market of Cloud Services alone will be worth 148.8 billion on 2014 according to Gartner; APIs are becoming the primary way to access all these cloud services. Between the 2013 and 2015 tabs such the iPad will surpass the laptop sales and by 2012 Android will be the most used operating system due to the wide adoption on multi mobile devices. An engineer UC Berkeley professor Sangiovanni Vincentelli expected in a foreseeable future (the 2017) where 7 thousand billion devices connected to the network will serve more than 7 billion people, where cars will drive us where we each have about 1,000 devices connected to come into relation with his life. APIs are cross platform by nature, I can see their distribution into every corner of internet; everything will be programmable, accessible and yes, your toaster will have an API.