Vendors’ Open API Programs Remain a Priority for Developers

Charlotte Dunlap
Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Open API projects will continue to evolve and be top-of-mind for developers.
  • Vendors need to lock in strategic partnerships which provide developers with new external API opportunities.

An ongoing topic among developers in mobile and Web environments is how to exploit external APIs in order to build new apps and services around another company’s products, and fortunately, mobile platform vendors continue to announce intriguing new API programs.  Probably the most obvious example of a company launching an API was when mega-retailer Best Buy opened up its API to third-party developers a few years ago, allowing them to access its REST-based programming interface for product information.  Developers gained access to the company’s massive product catalog, including product descriptions, images, pricing and availability, in order to weave that information into their own applications or services.  The result was a rush of new business opportunity for Best Buy and a way for developers to enhance their Web sites or apps with rich, current content.  Another watershed open API moment occurred when the Google Maps API was launched; suddenly everyone had products based upon access to that API. 

As the mobile era continues to evolve, developers are looking for new opportunities to exploit, particularly through access to new programming interfaces which will enhance their application projects.  Amidst IBM’s recent mobile platform announcements was a small mention that it was partnering with AT&T to provide access to the carrier’s services APIs, including IBM Worklight adapters.  For those paying attention, this piqued the interest of developers building advanced mobile and Web as well as commerce-related applications.  Such access to AT&T’s services would enhance developers’ customer-facing app development efforts by letting them offer mobile commerce, text-to-voice and messaging apps, among others.

The arrangement represents a win-win situation, because IBM gets to leverage ISV partners’ expertise in mobile application development and support customers with custom and vertical applications, while developers have access to the content they need to build innovative new apps.  Moreover, IBM seems to be taking the SAP Store strategy a step further.  IBM is enabling developers not only to build on its own mobile technology, but also to access network services through partner AT&T in order to offer even more compelling mobile applications and services.

It is worth rehashing the discussion of opening up APIs to remind app platform vendors that they must continue to come up with new ways of opening up their technology to developers and ISVs, including adopting open development specs themselves such as OpenSocial to simplify the use of those open APIs.

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