Zappos Comes to its Senses, Allows Mobile Apps

Adam DuVander
Jul. 14 2010, 05:48PM EDT

When Zappos released its API, there was a strange restriction: no mobile applications. While sometimes lawyers write terms that aren't formally enforced, Zappos made it clear on its API mailing list that it was serious. Soon, the restriction will be removed and mobile applications will be allowed without written approval.

In another post to the mailing list Will Young says the change was based on developer response:

Based on your quick feedback, we will be removing the restriction from our T&C's regarding mobile applications.

It's still important that the other parts of our terms are followed.
e.g:
- Don't misrepresent your application as an official Zappos application (this includes having Zappos or any misspelling of Zappors or a Zappos TM in the name)
- Properly attribute content coming from Zappos
- Don't use our proprietary content (reviews, multi-image views) that link to non-Zappos sites

The original restriction, Young says, was because Zappos wasn't sure about its API or mobile strategy. Obviously, the terms were meant to stop mobile apps that might compete with Zappos' own forthcoming products. But for developers, it was a perplexing rule, especially since so much innovation is happening in mobile.

Thankfully, Zappos will remove the restriction on mobile apps. An open API is far less open with an entire class of application disallowed. And, in the end, the burgeoning Zappos API community will be the better for it.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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