November 4, 2005
@ 06:09 PM

I saw someone reference the Dave Luebbert's reasons to clone Google's API and wonder what my opinion was in response. In my post from yesterday entitled Clone the Google APIs: Kill That Noise, I gave some technical reasons why we wouldn't want to clone the Google APIs for Windows Live Search.

However, there is probably a clarification that I should have made. In certain cases, there is one thing that trumps all technical arguments against cloning an API. That is when the API has significant market share amongst developers. This is one of the reasons why even though I thought that the MetaWeblog API is a disaster, we made the call that MSN Spaces will support the MetaWeblog API. Since the MetaWeblog API is a derivative of the Blogger API, you could argue that in this case we are cloning a Google API.

To me, the difference here is the case of mindshare. The Blogger & MetaWeblog APIs are widely supported across the weblogging industry and have become de facto industry standards. I don't believe the same can be said for the Google's search API. If anything, I'd say the OpenSearch is the closest to a de facto industry standard for search APIs although [for now] it has been ignored by the big three major search players.

On a similar note, I'd probably agree that the Google Maps API is probably on its way to reaching de facto standard and Yahoo! & Microsoft should just go ahead and clone it. If I worked on the mapping API for either company, I'd probably give it six months and if adoption hadn't increased significantly would consider cloning their API.