Just the Stats: APIs

In honor of the recent ruling that APIs (application programmable interfaces) are not protected by copyright, I thought it'd be fun to take a look at some of the numbers on APIs.


As you might expect, things have changed since Web APIs first came on the scene. ProgrammableWeb.com tracks APIs. In a presentation for GlueCon, founder John Musser shared this statistic:


6,000 APIs in seven years registered with the site.


Now, that may not seem like a big whoop, but as Paul Harvey famously said, let's look at


The Rest of the Story


1,000. Number of Web APIs registered between 2000 and 2008.

18 months. Time it took for that to double to 2,000 APIs, which was mid-2009.

1,000. APIs added in next 9 months (2009-2010).

2,000. APIs added in next 10 months (2010-2011).

1,000. APIs registered in the last three months.

More than 6,100. Number of Web APIs registered with Programmable Web as of June, 2012.


And, it should be noted, registration is voluntary - a way to market your API. So it's unlikely Programmable Web offers a complete list.


But is it meaningful? Who's using all these APIs and what are they doing with them?


The Giants of APIs


13 billion. Daily calls for Twitter's API.

5 billion. Daily calls for the Facebook and Twitter APIs.

1.4 billion. Daily calls for Netflix's API.

1.1 billion. Daily calls for Accuweather's API.

1 billion. Daily calls for the Klout, eBay and Sabre APIs.


Good for them. But do APIs really pay off as a business strategy? Do companies really make money off APIs?


The Cash of APIs


90 percent of $2 billion-a-year business. Amount Expedia attributes to APIs.

$68.6 billion. Value of goods sold globally on eBay - and each transaction was managed by one or more eBay APIs.


Businesses typically look to their APIs to generate additional revenue, either by developing stronger relationships with business partners or improving user experience and quality of service, Guillaume Balas, CMO of the API management company, 3Scale, told Programmable Web.


As it turns out, many organizations are already convinced of the value. So, you might say it's


Serious Business


359. Enterprise APIs that are listed with Programmable Web. Fifteen percent were added in the last three months, and May saw the addition of almost one each day.

68.6 percent. Number of Mashery customers who say business leaders are the main owner of the API program.

22.6 percent. API programs lead by executive management, according to the same survey. That's compared to

23.4 percent. API programs owned by IT.


However, that may vary by audience. A Vordel survey conducted after a webinar showed that three-quarters of organizations had appointed either IT or the enterprise architects to oversee the API strategy. Of course, given the topic - creating an architecture for an API delivery - there could be a selection bias there.


Or perhaps the business leaders are waiting for the platform to be built before they take over, because they are definitely paying attention. A Mashery survey revealed that:


51 percent of boards are discussing APIs.

77 percent of management meetings include APIs as a discussion point.

17.5 percent of companies have even discussed APIs during earnings calls!


Regardless of who leads it, the Vordel survey did contain a few keys to what's driving all this API strategizing:


50 percent. Say APIs to integrate new channels.

25 percent. Say APIs will be rolled out for mobile apps.

15 percent. Want to build a developer community.


So, it seems organizations see real value in APIs, whether it's for integration (aka, "sharing"), backend connections, social media, cloud or mobile.

Judging by the stats, I'd say APIs should top any CIO or business leader's list of "strategies to explore" in the next 12 months.

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