Open APIs will Drive Innovation in a Mobile World


OpenAPIInnovation in future apps will come from the use of Open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces via Web Services) providing access to data and services to anyone that wants to consume it.  Today organizations generally provide an app that allows users to interact with the data, products or services the organization provides. In some cases an API(s) is provided for partners which provides access to a limited subset of the organizations underlying data or services. The outcome of this approach is usually a single “Official’ app for a platform and a small sub-set of specialty partner apps all of which are under the control of the Organization either directly or indirectly.  While this allows an Organization to easily control the use and the branding of its data, services and products it also has the effect of limiting the innovative use of them across different use cases and platforms. Future innovation in Apps will occur when Developers can compose apps from one or more Open APIs where Organizations have exposed their data and or services to the world. This will enable the creation of incredibly rich apps that combine these Open APIs in ways we can’t even imagine today. Open APIs will also allow for the support of future mobile platforms by allowing the creation of apps for that platform by 3rd parties that consume the Open APIs provided by an Organization. You can see some of this today in the many apps available in the stores that provide unique and innovative ways for us to interact with social media, keep up to date on the latest news or communicate with others. These Apps would not be possible without Open APIs. Unfortunately many large organizations are not embracing Open APIs, they see more value and opportunity in strictly controlling their brand and restricting the use of their data and services. An example of this is Twitter which started out offering a rich API for its service that say the creation of many very creative and innovative apps many of which are now gone because of Twitter’s decision to greatly reduce the API it provides opting instead to force people to use its Official Apps so that advertising and other forms of monetization can be implemented. While I can certainly understand why Twitter would want to do this, all companies want to make money, I hope this trend is only temporary because Open APIs spur innovation, competition and choice giving us a rich vibrant ever evolving ecosystem that benefits us all.

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