From a corporate strategy perspective what's the relevance of your position within the complex mashup ecosystem? In what ways does API-based organic growth lead to more innovation in the software sector? These are two of the questions that faculty members Bala Iyer, Venkat Venkatraman and their research team at Boston University's School of Management are currently investigating. They use network methods to analyze innovation, architecture and the development of new products in the networked era.
Since October of last year one of their inputs has been the API and mashup data from this site. Taking this data and running it through software tools like Excel and Pajek they've created network diagrams such as the examples you can view on Professor Iyer's site. In these diagrams link thickness represents the number of mashups created using a combination of APIs. Nodes representing components owned by the same company use the same color (given that Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft and Google provide multiple APIs).
If look at earlier posts on that site you can see a series of monthly mashup network diagrams from October 2005 through January 2006. During that time the number of mashups listed increased from 206 to 509.
As Prof. Iyer notes: "Our earlier work on software companies (based on data provided by IDC) showed that network position mattered when competing within software ecosystems. We believe that in Web 2.0 it is important to position your products within the mashup network. In the software product ecosystem era, companies such as MSFT were teaching us how to compete. Now these lessons are imparted by Google, eBay, AMZN and Yahoo!"
You can see some of their previous research on inter-organizational networks within the software industry at softwareecosystems.com. One of the links there is to a presentation from last month on API-based innovation called Google Rules (Flash file).
In the meantime their research is ongoing and they're keeping a close eye on the growth of the mashup ecosystem.