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Weblog:   Amazon Web Services API
Subject:   "benign industry lockin"
Date:   2002-07-26 21:42:58
From:   winfield
The "benign industry lockin" (? since when has lockin been benign?) Tim refers to is not secured by the API as much as it is by the ownership of data exposed by those APIs, especially since data oriented APIs tend to be quite simple, unlike for example the WIN32 API. I really don't think that, especially if sites expose their data over a simpler and more elegant REST interface, that the API will play much of a role in squelching imitators.
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  • Tim O'Reilly photo "benign industry lockin"
    2002-08-03 09:13:22  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    No, actually, the benign lock in comes from customers and developers relying on your data and the value they themselves add to it, not on ownership of the data itself. For example, much of the core data on Amazon is also available on BN.com or other book sites. It's what customers add to it that is unique. And the same is true of added-value applications.

    One of my all time favorite quotes about the computer industry came from Doug Carlston, founder of Broderbund Software. He was explaining their various product lines: games (like Myst), "infotainment" (lie Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego), and productivity software (like Print Shop Pro and Family Tree Maker). "Family Tree Maker is productivity software?" I asked. "Yes. We consider anything productivity software when the user's data is more important to them than the data we provide."

    Sites like Amazon have a lot of user data, but they are not yet quite "productivity software" by Doug's definition. The "lock in" I refer to comes when they have that extra edge of value for users.

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