Online seller Amazon has a whole suite of Amazon APIs that are focused not on its books and other products, but instead on letting developers use Amazon infrastructure. These Amazon Web Services (AWS), as they're called, provide cloud-based computing and storage services like Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3. Amazon's annual contest recently opened up to the entire world. The top winner will receive $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS service credits.
The official contest page talks more about the changes for the contest this year:
What's New in 2011?
Based on feedback we received last year from start-ups all over the world, we are excited to introduce two new features to the AWS Start-Up Challenge.
Expanded world footprint: We are happy to announce an increased eligibility for the contest. This year, young companies around the world can enter the contest (subject to the Official Rules). Please read the eligibility portion of the Official Rules for detailed eligibility information.
Improved Contest Platform: This year, we are working with YouNoodle.com, a global entrepreneurship network and contest platform, to help administer AWS Start-Up Challenge entries. Using this platform, you can submit your entry, then return and edit it until the contest deadline. You will also receive confirmation of your submission and receive status updates on the contest. Judges from Amazon Web Services will review and judge your submitted entries. Please read the Official Rules for more detailed information.
The uses of the AWS APIs are almost too numerous to count, as it offers dynamic computing power to help your application scale, which is useful for just about any well-used application at times. Perhaps that's why this contest is called the "startup challenge," which suggests winners might have more legs than in usual developer contests.
In addition to these sorts of infrastructure APIs, Amazon also offers a number of other services, including search, payments, "humansourcing" through the Mechanical Turk API, and others.