A third common use case of APIs is as an accelerator for content distribution and enabling transactions from a wide variety of sources. A special form of partner ecosystem, for media and content APIs, this means providing API access to content that partners, news readers, aggregators and mashup tools can automatically access and propel to new audiences. For eCommerce and, increasingly, brick and mortar retailers, APIs can enable purchase transactions via a much wider set of interfaces than a standard website would. An example aggregator in the media case is Flipboard, which pulls in content via API from a wide variety of sources — having an accessible API is table stakes to being accessible to the Flipboard audience. On the eCommerce side, companies such as Walgreens now have APIs that enable prescription filling and submission of photos for printing – enabling third-party developers to embed such features wherever and whenever it is convenient for the user.
APIs have become one of the hot topics on the corporate IT agenda in recent months – both in terms of individual companies launching new APIs such as Jawbone and Honeywell and in the more general rise of the API economy. The boom is evident as ProgrammableWeb has reached the milestone of 10,000 APIs published.
Despite this attention, however, it's often hard to reconcile what is being written vs. what APIs actually deliver to the business. In other words – who is using APIs and what are they using them for? To help answer this, 3Scale, a leading API management solutions provider, has developed the top five reasons a business needs APIs.