APIs, APIs APIs!!!!! (And Learn As You Play)
We're seeing the beginnings of something very, very big here - Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo!:
"Today's news is that the Yahoo! Mail API that we previewed at last year's Open Hack Day is now available to all developers. It speaks both SOAP and JSON-RPC and is well documented. The SOAP API is the same API that the mail front-end uses to talk to the mail back-end mail system, so it's the real deal. There's sample code too. And even apps it the gallery."
Why is this 'big'? It is a clear signal of where we're all going with the web. APIs, APIs APIs!!!!!
Now, this is interesting too, again Jeremy:
"Oh, I should also mention that if you build the next kill application and convince people to use it and upgrade to the premium version of Yahoo! Mail, we'll pay you $10 per user. The sky's the limit on how cool your mail front-end can be. We'll handle the infrastructure."
So, become a partner of Yahoo! by building on their APIs. I have no idea about the viability of this as business model, but I love this because what is going on here is real-time experimentation with potential business models. It might fly, it might not. But one thing is guaranteed - Yahoo! is going to do a huge amount of learning in this space and that counts for a great deal. Why? Because the ability to monetize web services / APIs is going to be THE name of the game over the next few years. And at this stage of the game, learning has huge value and this learning has potentially enourmous pay-offs down the road. Play, innovate, experiment, make mistakes but LEARN what it takes to succeed in the future - 'cause it's coming at us faster than we think.
This is not a time for analysis paralysis.
More on this at the YDN blog (by Chad Dickerson):
"Yes, cash. With this release, Yahoo! Mail Web Service developers can earn referral commissions by building compelling applications targeted at our premium email users. For a trial period, Yahoo! Mail is offering an incentive for developers to build applications using the full functionality available for premium Yahoo! Mail accounts. Specifically, Yahoo! Mail is currently providing a commission of $10.00 for every new Yahoo! Mail Plus account referred by approved developers. Read the Yahoo! Mail Web Service documentation for more details on how to participate. As the program evolves, we will continue to evaluate and consider additional business models for developers, ISVs, and partners. Let us know what you would like to see in the comments, or post to our suggestion board -- we're listening."
Matt McAllister, also of Yahoo!, has some screencasts he recorded of Jeremy and members of the engineering team discussing and showing the web services at work.
John Musser over at ProgrammableWeb has already added an Yahoo Mail! API profile to his human UDDI site:
"The API will allow applications to compose and send messages, work with mailboxes, etc. Keep in mind that the amount of functionality available to the API varies by the level of the user account being accessed. So a free account is limited to listing folders and messages while a premium account user has no restrictions. The Mail API leverages other Yahoo! developer services like the Yahoo! BBAuth API to credential the user. The core service is SOAP-based, but conveniently also supports a lighter-weight JSON-RPC implementation. Oh yes, while they make the API as simple as they can, email’s inherently more complex than say bookmarks, thus the API docs PDF is over 100 pages."
"My bet is that more features are coming soon."
I won't bet against him on that one :-) Back to the YDN blog:
"The Yahoo! Mail Web Service is a big release for Yahoo! and the Internet, and it's only the beginning of what you'll be seeing from Yahoo!. Jump into our code samples for Java, .NET, PHP, Perl and Python, and build your dream mail app today, then be sure to give us feedback on your experience so we can continue to make the API even better. "
Richard MacManus sums all this up nicely:
"All up, this is another great example of a big Internet company 'opening up' their platform and (to some extent) their data, to enable more creative mashups and new apps to be built on top of it. Yahoo is certainly doing more than both Google and Microsoft in this respect."