The API Game

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Peter linked me to this article on Free APIs on the web. After reading it, I nodded my head and folded my arms resolutely. Anyone involved in the Mac ISV scene knows how true all these things are not just on the web, but when writing applications on the Mac, as well.

My (completely unsolicited) advice: For starters, be unique. Solve a Hard Problem. Don’t just wrap an API, slap something pretty on it, and expect the cash to roll in. Odds are that Apple will end up competing with you (especially since you’re using their API!), and you will get crushed.

Being unique is not a guarantee, of course. The Karelia guys are extremely courageous and are the very model of tenacity—and their logo reflects it all so perfectly! Dan is absolutely right: being nimble and quick are absolutely the right thing to be in this business.

Finally, I absolutely agree with Nat Torkington’s conclusion: “there’s no such thing as a free API if you’re looking to build a business.” You have to come up with your own product. To summarize: If you don’t bring anything to the table, you’re never going to be able put anything on the table.