An API allows 3rd-party developers to integrate your data or functionality into their applications. It is a business-to-business, computer-to-computer integration technology.
For example, if you own a database of restaurant reviews, an API would allow an iPhone developer to use your review data in a mobile restaurant-finder app. If you own an algorithm for detecting faces in photographs, an API would allow a social networking site to use your algorithm on all photos that users upload. And if you're running a classified ads site, an API would allow developers to create a mashup that shows your ads on a map.
An API can be either free or paid. Paid APIs provide you with a direct revenue stream. For example, if you own a database of restaurant reviews, you could sell API access to your database at $0.001 per review. As another example, if you own an algorithm to detect faces in photographs, you could sell API access to the algorithm at e.g. $0.02 per photograph.
Free APIs can provide indirect benefits, such as increased traffic to your site and increased sales through your traditional channels. For example, if you have an online retail site, you could give away API access to your product catalog for free, because by giving away this information you are likely increasing your product sales. If you are offering a free API, its users are often excellent leads for your sales process or candidates for business development / partnership opportunities.
The number of web APIs for developers has been doubling annually for the past 4 years. If you are offering data or functionality that can be offered in the form of an API, chances are that your competitors are already thinking of it, if not offering it already.
Additionally, offering an API is the best way to ensure that you are not missing out on new emerging opportunities. How do you make sure that your data can be used on mobile devices (iPhone / Android / others), social networks (Facebook / Myspace / others), platforms like Salesforce.com, augmented reality applications, web-based widgets, location-aware apps, and many more? How can you track the latest trends and ensure you are not left behind? You cannot do it alone, but you can do it by exposing your data in the form of an API (on your terms, with your pricing) and then tapping into the creative powers of developers worldwide to ensure that all the relevant platforms are covered.
You probably don't want to simply give away your valuable functionality without getting some business benefits in return. At the very least, you need to know who your API users are. For free APIs, you also need to put quotas in place to prevent unlimited usage. For paid APIs, you need a way to measure usage, set pricing, and charge developers accordingly.
WebServius offers an API Management solution as a service. You simply connect your functionality to us and set any rules you want, such as pricing and usage quotas. We then take care of all aspects of API management and billing, allowing you to concentrate on your core competencies.
Best of all, there is no up-front cost with our regular plans. For paid APIs, we simply take a small percentage of the API usage charges that are billed through our system. For low-traffic free APIs, the WebServius solution is absolutely free. See our pricing section for details.
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