Affiliation as the mashup business model
Update 3/31: Peter has a post which very nicely correlates with this. I suggest checking it out.
When you use someone else’s API you become a reseller. That is to say you provide distribution to their service. Most web services don’t have business models for their APIs because they don’t have reseller business models, yet.
This is just a very humble opinion, but I think the only serious way to make business out of mashups1 is for the mashed-up service(s) to provide affiliation features and give the ‘mashuppers’ a slice of the generated revenue. A mashupper — ie. ‘mashup provider’ — functions as a retailer for the service backend and thus earns a provision for the business created for the actual service provider. Although this affiliation aspect covers only a little part of the whole Internet
servicing service mediation ecosystem issue, I really believe it’s the most crucial. Yes, all the traditional stakeholders — like marketing and customer/developer support — are possible, but those are supplementary roles and not directly linked to business transactions. The beef is in the actual business service. (I guess this is obvious? Why the heck am I writing this post?)
For example, the Google’s search isn’t a business service (fortunately!), thus there would be little sense to provide a SOAP api for it.2 Unlikewise Amazon’s api, which produces hard cash for Amazon and so it’s feasible to provide affiliation3 for it; the same goes for eBay. And I wish there’ll be a lot more in the near future!
WS-Affiliation anyone? We don’t want a zillion proprietary affiliation mechanisms! (Naturally, the possible exception to the ‘we’ are the restafarians. God damn those short-sighted hippies!)
1) This (very short) post doesn’t concern SaaS or any other software business. This is about all kinds of consumer business services that are delivered—at least partially—through the internets.
2) Oh, lookie here: there’s still a SOAP api for AdSense. (Which was expected, of course.)
3) This is related to the Amazon E-Commerce Service.