Monday, June 14, 2010

Integrating Multiple API Services: In response to Robert Scoble's Location 2012 piece

Over the weekend, I read Robert Scoble's dream piece (Techcrunch Guest Post: Location 2012) on integrating many standalone apps into a seamless system. I think Robert's dream is great, but very tough to implement. It seems very logical from the standpoint of how Robert connected the dots between the apps, the reality seems very distant to me, especially not by 2012.

Don't get me wrong, I think it would be really cool and helpful to have all these data points integrated, but who will be able to do it. Integration like this is very complicated to build and managing such an infrastructure using other companies APIs will be a constant battle.

My Reasoning:

  • hard to manage many APIs which are controlled by other companies
  • how will the API companies win? Will there be enough revenue to keep the stand alone companies operating their data streams while an integration application handles the User Experience. Some sort of fair revenue sharing would be needed.
  • over integration may make the User experience unbearable for the 'simple' users. We're not all geeks.
My proposed solution:

Scaled down integration; My guess is that Apple will be the leader in this arena. I'm sorry for having to say it, as I think too many people use Apple as an easy example. Apple has shown repeatedly that it can smoothly integrate programs with great usability. Apple has the narrow focus and the balls to limit the integration at strategic points (which I don't feel Google has this control) to ensure the product works smoothly throughout the product lifecycle. Yes, naysayers will complain that it doesn't have X or Y, but Apple will release a product that operates well and is much further ahead of similar integrated products.
In summary, I think the integrated reality Robert Scoble laid out is possible. I think it will only be possible to be implemented by one of the two big players (1. Apple or 2. Google). I think they will both attempt it (based on both companies making strategic acquisitions);

Apple’s version will:
  • limited functionality initially
  • methodically add on elements
  • smooth UI
  • focused on their market of users
Google’s version will:
  • include many services right out of the gate, which will make a complex product
  • UI will be difficult for the 'simple' user
  • try to please every user in the world, rather than focus on a specific type of user
What do you think?  Is it possible to have this seamless Integrated Multiple API Services by 2012? 2015? 2020?

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