Welcome to the API jungle – part I – a surfeit of APIs

Welcome to the API jungle or why developers must learn how to find, select, integrate APIs and contribute to their improvement and evolution (part I)

by Martin Duval, CEO, Bluenove

As I started writing this article at the beginning of October 2011 , the http://www.programmableweb.com/[1] web site indicated on its home page that it has identified 4007 APIs and 6175 mash-ups on a global footprint: At the moment you are reading this piece on the Visionary Marketing, I am certain these numbers are completely outdated. I agree that, Dear Developers, these numbers are still very far from your ‘Ocean of Apps’ but this new ecosystem nevertheless starts to look like a ‘Jungle of APIs’.

First and foremost, let’s take the time to put this notion of Open APIs back into its context. ‘Application Programming Interfaces’ do enable the connection between different IT platforms and the integration of different application and services through the creation of a ‘mash-up’. Open APIs proposed by a mobile or web player aim at helping the creation of an ecosystem around a common platform, therefore forming a dynamic community of creative developers who are given the opportunity to innovate faster and in many more directions, than if  they wished to do it on their own. This is therefore a genuine Open Innovation strategy in which the various players will have to initiate and maintain a long-term bond of trust, based on elements such as stability, sustainability, ease of use of the platform and the APIs, but also based on a win-win relationship with its community of partner developers.

Beyond the major web platforms (Google, Facebook, Ebay, Twitter, Amazon, etc.) that propose to the developers a big set of APIs and of course the main mobile OSes (Iphone, Android, Windows Phone, etc.) offering their SDKs[2] to support the development of mobile applications, similar open programs exist as well in the Telecom industry. Telecom operators such as Orange (with Orange API[3]), Telefonica (with their BlueVia[4] program) or Telenor (with Mobilt Bedriftsnett[5]) also allow access to third parties to some of their network assets such as SMS, click-to-call, location, storage, billing, etc. in order to facilitate the emergence of new services through the innovation potential from developers, start-ups and brands.

A signal demonstrating the need for rationalisation and standardisation in this ‘jungle of APIs’ came up with the GSMA ‘One API’[6] initiative: a success still to be confirmed.

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[1] ProgrammableWeb has been aquired by Alcatel-Lucent in 2010

[2] SDK : Software Development Kit

[3] Orange API : http://api.orange.com/en

[4] BlueVia from Telefonica : https://bluevia.com/en/

[5] Telenor Mobilt Bedriftsnett : http://www.telenor.com/en/news-and-media/press-releases/2009/Telenor-opens-new-interface-to-third-parties

[6] GSMA ‘One API’ : http://www.gsmworld.com/oneapi/

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Yann Gourvennec

CEO & Founder at Visionary Marketing
Yann has a long-standing experience in marketing, information systems and Web marketing. He created visionarymarketing.com in 1996 and since then, he has practiced Web strategy, e-business and Web communications in the field. He was a member of socialmedia.org from 2008 till 2013. He is a lecturer, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger. In early 2014, he went from intrapreneur to entrepreneur when he founded his digital marketing agency Visionary Marketing.
Yann Gourvennec
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