For the large Internet API platform providers, there is also an important caution. Sustaining a straddle between a platform business and an end-user business may become increasingly challenging. If you become too greedy in terms of expanding into the end-user businesses of companies using your API platform, you may find that your platform business becomes less attractive. Before you start eating the young that are nourished by your APIs, you might want to be sure there are no other food sources to sustain you.
I suspect that sustaining the right balance in the Web 2.0 ecosystem over time will hinge on a new development – charging relatively nominal fees for API use. This will put increasing pressure on API users to come up with viable business models and reduce the incentive for API providers to compete with their API users.
April 18, 2007
John Hagel on the "end of web 2.0 innocence" meme.