The Growth of APIs
Evidence of the growth of activity related to APIs can be tracked by looking at public APIs. This is simply because private APIs are, well, private, and therefore more difficult to track.
Most of the generalizable statistics we have come from the world of public APIs, but our experience indicates that private APIs are enjoying a similar burst in growth. Moreover, we believe that private APIs are already substantially more important to most companies than public APIs. A look at popular consumer and business services shows how APIs have become the primary conduit for traffic. Sites like Twitter, Google, Netflix, eBay, Salesforce.com, and others now get more than half of their traffic through APIs.
Consider the following statistics:
Twitter: More than 15 billion calls per day as of July 2011, with 75 percent of traffic coming through the API
Netflix: More than 1 billion calls per day as of October 2011
Amazon Web Services: More than 260 billion objects stored in S3 as of January 2011
NPR: 3.2 billion stories delivered via the API per month as of October 2011
Google: 5 billion calls per day
Facebook: 5 billion calls per day
In the face of this sort of evidence, clearly APIs are becoming a conduit for a tremendous volume of communication and commerce. As with many technology trends, the first movers are technology-savvy startups. They are being followed by a whole raft of newer arrivals to this space who have started building API-based channels. Such companies include financial services firms like TradeKing, media companies like NPR, The New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times, and The Guardian, retailers like Best Buy, Tesco, Sears, and Amazon, and automotive companies like Ford and General Motors.
The use of keyword api by companies who do not make their use widely known is also increasing. Many companies are reinventing the way applications are built within their own enterprises by exposing their existing assets as APIs, enabling their internal developers to build innovative new mobile, social, and cloud apps. Many of what you may think of as “traditional enterprises” are employing APIs to increase their overall agility in delivering applications and to open up new opportunities for dealing with partners.
Today, we are seeing an explosion in consumption models. Why? Largely because of apps and mobile devices. We are rapidly moving from about a billion laptops with web browsers to as many as a trillion connected devices with apps by 2020, if we go by De Beer’s estimate. Most companies are seeing their customers move quickly beyond browser-based web apps. If you want to continue to be successful-or even stay in business-you need to be where your customers are!