APIs were the topic at our Septemeber Web Innovators meeting and Adam has some notes. On the topic of what companies get out of having an API, if it’s good enough, people will write books about it. We’ve seen it with the Google Hacks and Amazon Hacks books and now the trend continues with a line of Flickr books. I’d argue that this is a good sign that your service has arrived, helps to increase mindshare and gets more people using your service, which ultimately will increase the bottom line. But, again the key here is it has to be from a service that’s compelling enough. So, producing an API to your new web service is probably not important to get in the intial set of features. But, if your service starts to gain traction, you better be considering it.
Also, related to the topic of making a service better through their API, check out Moo.com, which for $20 will make a set of minicards from your Flickr photos. I’d say that’s a good use of an API.