Everything is Open – What a PITA (and what opportunities)

31 May

My recent posts have included one about Google opening up the directions API, and about Loki and its geo-location systems.

The next flood is open APIs – everything is opening up, and while it is exciting, it is also a bit overwhelming.

Beyond the above two (all great fits for iBegin), we have Garmin releasing an API to interact with its devices, we have Google Mapplets, and Facebook’s shift into a platform. And those are only a few. What about integration with login systems like OpenID and Yahoo? Exporting capabilities so others can create too?

I think we are reaching the point of so many powerful (ie – highly trafficked) sites having open APIs that it is becoming more and more important to have someone fulltime mashing your data with these systems. The above examples I gave are all perfect fits – figure out the closest gas station using Garmin. A mapplet for important categories like cafes or fast-food. A module so Facebook users can not only search but also incorporate their reviews, pictures, and events into the system. Allow Yahoo!/OpenID/Google ID users to login so they don’t have to create yet another account.

And the list goes on and on – whew … keeping up is becoming harder and harder.

There is a lot of talk about walled-garden et all, but I believe with the hyper-activity now going on in building out APIs that anyone can use, it is becoming more important to just by everywhere. Users don’t like being forced one way in another – but they do like it when you support a multitude of systems.

Companies were initially afraid of search engines – but then became best buddies with all the traffic they sent. Same thing happened with social networks – they were very resistant at first, but now you see Digg and Del.icio.us links everywhere. Sure they send traffic to Digg/Delicious/et all, but they get a lot of traffic back. And the same thing is going to happen (especially in the local space) with all these open APIs. Garmin works hard to get its users. Google is always angling new ways to keep users on their site. Facebook works hard to keep users on its site. It makes sense to leverage their platforms to get more traffic to your sites.

Think about this – a user (with a Yahoo account) ends up on your website. They want to add a review – but have to be logged in first. In one situation, you require them to create a new account. In another, they can login using their Yahoo account. The choice should be obvious.

I believe the ‘winners’ will be those who are found everywhere, on all the major platforms.

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