Friday, April 06, 2007

The Perils of Free APIs has an interesting post that discusses the perils of depending on a lot of the free APIs out there from the likes of Amazon.
What Alexaholic, Fraxlk, Crappo and Deflinger have proven is that only a delusional sucker would build an application on a publicly traded corporation’s API and expect to reap commercial success.  In other words, if and when you wish to use a company’s API, understand that it’s a short-lived, double-edged solution.  It’s a hobby.  If you don’t see that from Day 1, get out of the business landscape because you will regret the time and energy you spent on your project.
This is exactly the sort of thing that a bunch of us were discussing back in January at Mashup Camp as I discussed in this post of mine at the time.
if you’re serious about building a business on a mapping mashup, “free” services may not be the way to go. At the least, you should have contingency plans in place to transition to a for-fee service either within the API provider or elsewhere. Providing quality of service guarantees likely requires having backup API providers where possible in any case.
Free is nice to play around with. But if you're going to build a business (or even invest a substantial amount of time to develop), it's pretty darn risky to depend on the goodwill of a commercial entity who probably hasn't even published any definitive terms of service around their APIs.
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