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Friday, November 4, 2005

Cloning the Google API

Dave Winer started an initiative asking Microsoft, Yahoo and others to clone the Google API without the daily limits imposed by Google. Dave writes:

“Today, in late 2005, Google is still the leader in search, but either Yahoo or Microsoft, or even better – both – could leapfrog Google by allowing developers to build unlimited applications on their search engine. Or, if unlimited is not possible, make the limit practical for serious Internet applications, perhaps 1 million queries per day? Let’s work this out.”

Yahoo already has an API (one that is more powerful than Google’s, as it allows you to tap more services than just web search), but they too have the same usage limit. But actually, if you ask Google – or Yahoo – to increase your API limit and you outline your projects, I know they just might (recently, random outages of the API service have been more of a problem on my server than the daily limit).

Of course it would be nicer if the limit would be higher in the first place. It has hurt the popularity of the API that people have to make web tools and ask their visitors for their Google API Key (that’s much too complicated for typical usage, and even if I have an API key, why would I hand it out to another site – as that could be abused?).

Google say they must impose the limit because the API is an “experimental free program”, but first of all, the API allows them to learn about creative new usage scenarios, and second, the more they deploy the Google brand, the more people will stick with them. (The Google Maps API is a bit different in these regards; Google can create revenue by simply sticking their AdWords ads onto the maps).

Microsoft’s Rober Scoble agrees to Dave. He says user generated content (like the one generated by accessing the Google Web or Maps API) is the “key to how to build a very profitable and sticky business,” and, “Google is building an advertising platform. It is disrupting our businesses. And we’re letting them do it.”

Dave’s initiative is also available as audio version [MP3].


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