Some interesting reading over the past few days related to APIs. First, it is my belief that APIs are still in their infancy and we have yet to see really exponential growth of the open API movement. I also expect to see more ‘restricted APIs’ sold to developers who can then use them to create products that they sell (while the sponsoring site takes a cut).
So a couple interesting API scenarios are playing out currently. Google Gears was created as open source project (API) allowing anyone to use the technolog. As most people know, Google also has it new SaaS version of Microsoft Word and Excel. Well, so does Zoho, and being a smart company, Zoho jumped all over the opportunity by using Gears to power its doc and spreadsheet apps. As Zoli points out, the irony of this is that Zoho competes directly with Google and while Google doesn’t even yet use its own Gears technology, their #1 competitor does!
The second case is highlighted on VentureCake and it’s a scenario I ran into tonight. Many websites now offer integration so that when registering for a new social application your contacts from say Gmail or Hotmail can automatically be mined to help you find your friends on the system you are registering for. Cool, helpful idea, but what people forget is that they are providing some third-party with their email passwords. Such was my experience with a Facebook application — I wasn’t thinking and went ahead and gave them my login info. The app worked great and helped me find over 100 contacts on Facebook, but where is my password now!?! These types of apps make use of the Gmail API, and put Google in line for questioning should a major security beach/password leak occur.
Update: Fred Stutzman has a related post worth looking at