Google has announced that it will be retiring its Google Wallet for digital goods API on March 2, 2015.
In a post on the Google Wallet for Business help site, Google explained:
When we first launched Google Wallet for digital goods, we wanted to make it simple for users and merchants to buy and sell online. The industry has matured a lot since then, providing a number of alternative payment solutions to choose from.
As we continue to evolve and improve our merchant tools to meet new market challenges in the payments space, we are writing to let you know we will be retiring the Google Wallet for digital goods API on March 2, 2015.
Google says that merchants using the API will be able to use it to process payments up until the March 2, 2015 retirement date and will continue to have access to Google's merchant center thereafter, but recommends that merchants remove their integrations "as soon as possible to minimize any impact to your business." The company has published detailed instructions for how this can be accomplished.
While Google is apparently no longer interested in processing payments for digital goods broadly, the search giant will continue processing digital goods payments through Google Wallet for developers offering in-app purchases or selling their wares via the Google Play Store.
There's an API for that, until there isn't
Google's shuttering of its Google Wallet for digital goods API is just the latest example of the company's approach to product management. While experimentation and a willingness to end products that are not successful or no longer strategically aligned with the company's broader goals are arguably contributors to Google's success, users and developers often find themselves in a painful position when a product they use is axed.
That's the case for at least some of the developers and companies using the Google Wallet for digital goods API, which offered the ability to process recurring subscription payments. For this group, addressing Google's decision is not nearly as easy as finding a replacement provider and removing their existing integrations. They'll also have to deal with their current subscribers. Subscription migrations can be painful, and often result in lost business.
Ultimately, API retirements are always going to be a part of the API economy. For businesses and developers considering an API integration, it's worth asking the question, "Do I need this API more than the company that's offering it to me?" In the case of APIs offered by large companies with huge footprints, the answer will frequently be "Yes" as was the case with the Google Wallet for digital goods API.