The API economy is upon us and it will grow as technology companies continue to find ways to let others build upon proprietary technlogy. Rather than requiring each company to solve a multitude of problems, APIs allow companies to specialize in areas, then share access and data via code.
Grace Isford recently wrote about the API economy, and how the next phase of third-APIs is in the early stages:
But the next, exciting phase of the API economy, specifically third-party APIs, is just beginning in 2020. With the rise of serverless applications, backend functionalities are increasingly behind APIs, rather than on web servers. With an accelerated transition to cloud computing, APIs are playing a more crucial role integrating and facilitating cloud migration. App development is cheaper than ever before, and JAMstack is reliant upon APIs to shield complexity from web architecture. Not to mention third-party APIs are easier to flexibly use and integrate with query languages like GraphQL, and network effects compound a given API’s value over time.
She cites examples of some of the most successful API first companies like Twilio, Stripe, Okta, which were all developed with an API-first mentality.
While you might not think of them this way, some of the biggest companies of the past few decades originated from easily-implemented APIs that gave their users heightened power, efficiency or accessibility. API-first companies like Stripe, Twilio & Okta either created new markets or dramatically grew existing categories.
The most powerful companies enable others to create more with their technology. For the last 15 years, it's primarily meant giving others a platform for content. The next stage is via APIs, which enable even more creation because they aren't confined to a single platform. The rise of the API economy has barely begun.