The Dearth of Web Services and a Solution

Joe McKendrick points out an uncomfortable reality about web 2.0 and published APIs, namely that there aren’t that many of them relative to the number of web sites that could be offering them. This is something that we faced at Teqlo, which of course is built on the premise that these services exist and provide functionality that is useful.

Bob, however, cites ZDNet blogging colleague Dion Hinchcliffe’s own calculations about the actual number of APIs and mashups currently in existence, which don’t suggest the revolution is at hand anytime soon. Dion had stated in a recent post, that as of December 13, 2006 there were 348 APIs registered and 1,350 mashups.

We have been in the process of building some applications as part of an effort to not just “prime the pump” with some useful apps but also learn through actual experience what it takes to build applications that are composites of third party services. In other words, put ourselves in the shoes of our customers before expecting them to do it. We hit a wall when we spec’ed out an app that scoured sales leads off popular networking sites, like Linkedin and Jigsaw. The problem was that these services don’t have APIs to take advantage of, and that was a big roadblock but fortunately for us an opportunity to try out something we had been watching for a while, OpenKapow.

With OpenKapow you can turn any website into a REST service and what that means for us is that we can turn anything into a component in our network that can be used in any our user generated mashups, such as the one in the screenshot below which features a Linkedin service component generated by OpenKapow. It was remarkably easy to generate and has been very reliable.

Joe is right to highlight the API shortage but rest assured, no pun intended, there are options for generating reliable REST services.

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The Politics of Minimum Wage Increases

Here’s a viewpoint on the minimum wage you won’t like hear much about.

Minimal effort | Free exchange | Economist.com:

CEO’s who support higher minimum wages are not, as the media often casts them, renegade heros speaking truth to power because their inner moral voice bids them be silent no more. They are by and large, like Mr Sinegal, the heads of companies that pay well above the minimum wage. Forcing up the labour costs of their competitors, while simultaneously collecting good PR for “daring” to support a higher minimum, is a terrific business move. But it is not altruistic, nor does it make him a “maverick”. Costco’s biggest competitor, Wal-Mart, also supports a higher minimum wage, and for the same reason. Wal-Mart’s average wage is already above the new minimum; it will cost the company little, while possibly forcing mom-and-pop stores that compete with Wal-Mart out of business. This seems blindingly obvious to me. Though I don’t expect we’ll see “the minimum wage—it’s great for Wal-Mart!” in many Democratic campaign commercials.

Profit Slips at Sony on Losses for PlayStation 3

Told you so… I do admire their attempt to put the spin on it, suggesting that the loss is due to the price point being below manufacturing costs, neatly sidestepping the bigger issue that they had 300k unsold units after the pivotal Christmas shopping season, but hey they did “ship 1 million units” into the channel. It’s really kind of frightening to think that the manufacturing cost is over $600, in the quantities that Sony manufactures, for this game console.

Profit Slips at Sony on Losses for PlayStation 3 – New York Times:

In a statement, Sony blamed the decline on a strategic decision to set the price of the PlayStation 3 below the cost of production as a way to bolster market share. It also blamed start up costs for the new consoles, which were released in Japan and the United States in November. Sales of PlayStation Portable hand-held players have also been slow, the company said.

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Flickr merges their login system with Yahoo!

Flickr is finally forcing the switch from the “old skool” login system that pre-dated Flickr’s acquisition by Yahoo! with the Yahoo! (is it protocol to put the ! every time you type out that company name?) login system. Bummer, I resisted merging my flickr account with my yahoo account for the same silly reason that you get tee-shirts for obscure bands, so you can say “yeah, I was into them before they were popular”.

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-basedFlickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

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Competitious – Competitive News Clipping

One of the most obvious applications for the “wisdom of crowds” treatment has to be competitive news clipping, and it’s a mystery to me why more companies like Competitious are not on the scene. News clipping services like Cogenz and Connectbeam are enjoying usage growth, and both of those have enterprise deployment options, but to be fair they are bookmarking services that depend on someone being disciplined about bookmarking the content.

Techdirt has a great news clipping service, in fact when SAP switched over from their PR provided service not only did they get a much richer service that aggregated a wider variety of content delivered through multiple channels, but they also saved SAP about $500k a year with Techdirt. That’s real value when you provide not only a better service but you do it for less money. I am a huge fan of Techdirt for that reason (and I really like Mike and Grier as well).

There remains a gap for competitive data collection that sits below what someone like Techdirt is doing but above bookmarking and I think Competitious neatly fits right in there. What I like about it is that not only does it provide a place to bookmark competitive news and information, but it also allows some additional sorting based on things like the sentiment of the clipping, and they have an interesting “comparison matrix” that does provide additional analytics capabilities.

The “projects” organization means you can lump competitors together based on what type of competitor they are and then monitor the group as a whole. I use the “projects” to track things like partners as well, or companies I’m just interested in, so in a way the name “Competitious” itself is a limiting in nature, but probably the right place to start.

I really don’t know much about the company, not even where they are located, but I like the service and will be expanding our usage of it. I should also clarify something, I started out this post with a wisdom of crowds reference but in all fairness Competitious does not provide a true representation of that philosophy because you can’t tag or comment on existing clippings, but considering that they seem to have the basic functionality well implemented I am going to speculate that they could move in that direction.

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Complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot access if you upgrade to Vista

This translates into a subsidy worth as much as $120 ($40 a month for unlimited t-mobile hotspot access if you are not a t-mobile subscriber). So basically, if you use the hotspots at Starbucks a lot, upgrading to Vista actually saves you $20 ($99 for the upgrade) assuming nothing else gets jammed up in the process.

Windows Vista Team Blog : Exclusive to Windows Vista users: Complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot access:

Take your mobile PC running Windows Vista to any North American T-Mobile HotSpot between 30th January and 30th April for a complimentary, blazing-fast broadband connection. This offer actually goes live on Friday 26th and will not receive further promotion until January 30th, but I wanted readers of this blog to be the first to know, and to take advantage :)

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Vista marks end of an era for Microsoft

Waters is right to point to the sea shift that is underway at these large software technology companies, a shift away from big traumatic software upgrades to more frequent component bumps. The points that are often missed in these debates is that the focus on the customer obscures the fact that the companies themselves don’t want to continue to deliver software this way anymore, and equally important is that this is not simply a shift in how you develop and ship it, but how you price, support, promote, and build a partner program around these platforms.

For many of these companies the phrase “end of an era” may have deeper consequences as for some of them they will never again see the glory and success they once enjoyed. Microsoft will come out not just okay, I think they will come out of this a much stronger company.

FT.com / Technology – Vista marks end of an era for Microsoft:
That is partly because of what Mr Cusumano calls the internal “trauma” caused by its struggles with Vista. Never again: in future, he says, Microsoft will release less ambitious, and more frequent, updates to Windows.

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