Last week ProgrammableWeb crossed one of its biggest milestones thus far when we added the 1,000th web service API to our API directory. This is a long way from the 32 APIs we started with back in the summer of 2005. Back then even the phrase "web mashup" was only a few months old.
And the change is not just in quantity of APIs, but in quality, variety, rate of growth, and most of all, impact. Over the past 3 years, APIs have shown they can be truly disruptive in a wide range of online markets. We've seen this with the introduction of ground breaking APIs like:
- eBay's API, the first open API of this class starting back in 2001 and now over 60% of eBay listings come from their APIs to the tune of over 6 billion API calls per month.
- The original Amazon API from 2002, the eCommerce API (now called the Associates Web Service), and today with innovative API-driven cloud services like Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2
- Salesforce.com, the industry's leading enterprise API and one that should make most SaaS vendors understand why they need to offer an API
- The Google Maps API which for many people is synonymous with the word mashup
- Flickr API, the inspiration for hundreds of photo mashups
- YouTube API, also used in hundreds of mashups and now nearly every online video provider has followed suit by offering APIs
- Facebook platform, whose launch 18 months ago shook-up the world of social networks and now comprable "platforms" are available on most socnets
- Twitter, whose API does 10x the traffic of their web site
One of the trends we've seen in open APIs is that within a given market segment, once one API becomes a huge success (like Google Maps or Facebook), or a sufficient number of leaders offer APIs (like in eCommerce), that a competitive or defensive reaction occurs and soon everyone else in that sector feels like they need to offer an API. It can be a domino effect. Within a year after the Facebook F8 launch of their platform nearly everyone from Google's Orkut to MySpace offered open APIs. Likewise this has happened in mapping, video, photo, music, messaging, voice (the telcos are opening-up, often begrudgingly), and even in the news business (with new APIs for NPR, The New York Times, and lots of other news and media outlets coming soon).
How do these 1000 APIs break down by type? The following chart, derived from our database, shows the the top 15 sectors or markets with the greatest number of competing API providers. As you can see there are already 71 mapping-related APIs alone:
As each of those largest API markets have grown, we've added new Topic Areas on ProgrammableWeb to track the news, APIs, mashups and sub-trends:
From a technology perspective, where are we on the API front? For one thing, the success of open Web APIs has had a big impact on the rise of RESTful design patterns. To provide some light on this from an open API perspective, we've created a new mashup, using our own ProgrammableWeb API and the Google Chart API, to show the distribution of protocol usage by API across our directory. As you can see, 63% of the APIs in our directory are REST-based (and including Atom, also RESTful, there's more).
And what was API number 1000 in our directory? It was the New York Times Community API, a notable new API provider, one that besides giving you all the news that's fit to mix, symbolizes just how much the world is opening-up.