If you want to understand the power of APIs in our increasingly cloud-oriented world, just look at Google Buzz.
I won't blame you if you've forgotten what Buzz is because, despite it's name, it was highly forgettable, (which reminds me, whatever happened to Google Wave?)
But, basically, it's Google's attempt at social networking. It's integrated into Gmail, and it pulls content from Google Reader and Twitter if you let it, so it should've been a natural and easy tool to use. Except, it isn't. I don't know if it was too little too late, too intrusive (it automatically adds follows for you from contacts in your inbox) or just too boring-but for whatever reason, Buzz fell flat.
A recent TechCrunch article theorizes another reason for Buzz's failure: No published application programming interfaces, or APIs. In effect, the article explains, this shut out Buzz from the social-networking ecosystem, a definite no-no when you're trying to get a foothold in the social-networking scene.
Explains TechCrunch writer Jason Kincaid:
Unfortunately, if a developer wanted to do a more robust integration, they were still out of luck - that's why you haven't really seen Buzz integrated into any major Twitter/Facebook clients, and it's really held Buzz back.
Last week, Google (finally) got around to releasing Buzz APIs at Google I/O. Ping, TweetDeck, Socialwok, Seesmic and a few others are among the launch partners.
APIs are not without their issues, of course. The word on the street is that sometimes APIs are updated without notifying customers, a dirty little practice called "API slamming," which, obviously, can cause problems. There's also the risk of becoming locked into a proprietary API and, of course, vendors including Google are vying for their APIs to become the de facto standard.
But in this interconnected Internet world, APIs are becoming the ties that bind, and, as Google learned with Buzz, it's unwise to ignore that.