Building and maintaining your own API requires a lot of time and expertise. Unless you have a very specific use case in which you need special features and functionality, chances are you can find an already available API to meet your needs — thanks to the growth of APIs as a product. The prevalence of organizations creating an API as a product or just API products has grown significantly.
What are API Products?
To define API as a product, it’s best to start with the three categories of APIs:
- Public API: Public APIs are open-sourced, meaning anyone can access and use them. Usually, they’re built by individuals and provided for free. There are tons of examples of public APIs that provide data on the weather to sports to just about anything else.
- Partner API: Partner or third-party APIs require specific rights or payment to access. Either you are doing business with an organization that provides you with access or you pay for access — such as the case with APIs as a product. Examples of partner APIs include PayPal or those you use to integrate your CRM with other tools.
- Private API: Private or internal APIs are the ones built by your internal development team for your unique use case or needs.
The number of public APIs has grown exponentially in the past few years, some estimate more than 200 million and counting. But because public APIs are free, they may not be actively maintained and thus suffer from performance issues and a lack of reliability. Further, they may not have important security measures in place to protect your data.
Our business, like others, has seen the potential in providing APIs as a product to alleviate the burden on organizations of having to build their own and avoid the risks of using a public API. API as a product is the monetization of partner APIs for business purposes. It’s treating an API like a product by actively updating, maintaining, and marketing it.
Benefits of Using API Products
Google has observed that teams that use API products rather than build individual APIs for project purposes are more likely to realize the potential value of APIs as business accelerators and maximize productivity.
Just some of the benefits your organization can get using an API product instead of building your own include:
- Time savings: Using an API product saves time by allowing your in-house developers to reuse resources, rather than building everything from scratch. They can focus on the core functionality of your application or service instead of working on maintaining parsers and proxy networks.
- Scalability: Product APIs also provide access to large datasets that would be difficult, if not impossible, to collect on your own. This data can include anything from SERP results to product prices to reviews and more. And since the API is built as a product, it’s usually able to withstand large volumes of requests.
- Easy integration: Since product APIs are being sold as a product, they have to be able to integrate with a variety of data ecosystems. This can be highly beneficial if you’re working with multiple data environments.
- Better user experience: Product APIs can help provide a better user experience by allowing developers to spend less time on the maintenance of an API and more time on creating additional features and content in your applications – which makes your product more valuable and engaging to users.
APIs are how data — arguably the most valuable currency for businesses outside actual money — is transferred. So it’s no surprise that 83% of organizations consider APIs a critical part of their business strategy. But to use them only as an integration tool or project-by-project is short-sighted.
We strongly feel APIs are a strategic asset and aim to provide companies with all the API products they need over the long term — so they can focus on doing what they do best while we worry about the maintenance of the API. Explore all our APIs or learn more about evaluating and selecting the right API provider for your needs.