TokBox Gives Up 2 Million Users to Focus on its API

TokBox, the web-based video chat and conferencing application, has announced a change in directions. Its popular TokBox application shall cease to be available and instead the company will focus on its OpenTok API, with all its energies on increasing API adoption with a developer contest to go along with it. To get the ball rolling, today it's announced 30 new partners already on the Platform.

Moving on from its chat service means leaving behind 2 million users and TokBox broke the news earlier this week. "The opportunity in the API business is greater," said TokBox's Micky O'Brien. "If we're going to focus, we need to focus on that," she said.

The OpenTok API helps developers incorporate group video conversations into their applications. So, someone could build an application to replace the TokBox service. And TokBox may be hoping they do just that. To encourage adoption of its API among developers, the company announced an OpenTok contest with a creative grand prize. The overall winner will be showcased to TokBox's 2 million users searching for new ways to chat with their friends.

The goal of the developer contest is to utilize the OpenTok API and build an innovative application that incorporates video chat via its API. The contest has an interesting format in which there are four weekly milestones, starting with the first deadline on February 14. At each weekly deadline, you can submit your application and can enter as many times you want. The TokBox team will review the submissions and there will be a winner every week. The weekly prizes include an Android Tablet, iPad, Kinect and a Boxee Box.

To show the power of its platform, and potentially give developers some ideas, TokBox today announced 30 new partners who have incorporated its OpenTok API, which launched in November. Among them are PokerView, which now allows players to see each other while playing online poker. A full list of partners and example applications can be found in the OpenTok showcase.

Tokbox’s strategy to move away from a product to an API platform play looks on the surface a good strategic move. One of the best success stories for an API has been Twilio and a key to that success has been the way telephony services can be innovatively introduced in most applications. The big challenge in front of Tokbox will be to illustrate how its video chat API can be used across applications. Its partner launch and their many uses may help developers to see how to include the service, perhaps motivated by the potential of 2 million new pairs of eyeballs on their work.

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