The Importance Of Having An API For Arab Startups
Over the past few years, one of the really important trends and directions we’ve been seeing with online services is the move towards opening their platforms, mainly through APIs (Application programming interfaces), so that people can build a set of tools around them, pull or push information through them easily, and so as to make it easier for other platforms to talk to their platform as well.
When it comes to the tools developed around these platforms, we find tools that use the base functionalities provided by the platform, just making them easier to use by providing different interfaces and clients for the application; and other tools that extend the application further by providing complimentary functionalities that make it even more interesting for more users.
In both of these cases, having people developing these kinds of tools, and users adopting them, can only be good for the service, mainly because it helps build a community of users around the service, spreads it even further into the mainstream, and because it also provides clearer ideas for growth through the different uses the application is being used for.
On the other hand, having the possibility for other platforms to talk to their platform provides users of both platforms with an added-value, which can only be good, building user loyalty and growing both services’ user bases.
In the Arab online startup scene, we can’t really find that many examples of services opening up their platforms through APIs, even though I think it’s even more important and crucial in the Arab internet context.
Arab startups don’t have as much access to funding as their US or international counterparts, meaning that they have less flexibility and ability to grow their service into a central point that can be everything for everyone, so it’d be more interesting if they could just concentrate on one area, that they could fully develop and do very well, and then open it up so that other specialized services can plug in and communicate with it, in a way that we end up with a group of online applications that compliment each other and work together successfully.
Just taking the example of Yamli that recently opened up their linguistic service through an API, we can see that the online services that have integrated the functionality in their systems have easily provided an added-value for their users without having to invest a lot of time into developing a solution of their own, leaving them the time to concentrate on their main business, while Yamli see a growth in their user base and can continue to develop their solution even more.
In the end it’s a win-win situation for both the providing service and the consuming one.