5 May, 2010 in Programming by

Product Survival in the Mobile Age: APIs and App Stores

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At some point in the next couple years, more web browsing will occur on a handheld device, probably a cell phone of some sort, than on a desktop computer.

That concept is as revolutionary as the adoption of the personal computer in the early 1980s.

Has your company began to think along those lines? If not, you may already be dying on the vine. Because your product needs to be where the customers are, you need to be flexible enough to be in all those places at the same time.

Enter the API, or Application Programming Interface. An API can programmatically expose as little or much data and functionality that your product contains as you want.

For example, some of the most popular APIs at the moment are: Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps, and Flickr. By making these interfaces available, programmers all around the world are able to “mashup” interesting uses for these services. That’s part of the benefit of an API, your company doesn’t necessarily have to develop the actual clients that consume the interface.

Now just having an API is good, but for real success, bring in the App Stores. Of course at this point, we know Apple iTunes is the 800-pound gorilla with over 185,000 applications available.

If a smartphone manufacturer wants their device to be prosperous, they’ll definitely need to provide an SDK, or software development kit. This is the glue programmers will use to bind your product’s API to the device in question. The top mobile SDKs, in no particular order are: Apple iPhone, webOS for the Palm Pre & Pixi, and Google Android. Currently in the works is the new Windows Phone platform, which Microsoft is using existing developer skills from Silverlight and XNA to create rich phone applications.

For your company’s API to be successful you need to do a lot more than just exposing an endpoint. You need to nurture the developer community around your API by allowing programmers to give their feedback on the state of your service as well as provide communications from your developers on the direction of the API. Also by providing lots of quality documentation and examples in various programming languages you can help the community get a running start with your interface.

Now then, if your mobile offering is lacking, remember these 2 key words for your next high-level meeting: APIs and App Stores!

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2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

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    Roger Dickey  |  May 5th, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    How timely, Blockbuster Video just announced their “Blockbuster Everywhere” API:

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2010/05/blockbuster-video-launches-api.php

    Will that keep the sinking ship afloat?

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    Justin Dupre  |  June 8th, 2010 at 6:14 am #

    Technology is definitely changing over the years. Thanks for sharing, I’ll keep what you wrote in mind.