Brady Forrest over on the O'Reilly Radar blog just announced that Google Deprecates Their SOAP Search API where he states
In an odd move Google has quietly deprecated their Search SOAP API,
will no longer be issuing keys, and have removed the SDK from their
site. They did not even issue a blog post about it. They will continue
(for how long?) to support existing users, but will not do any bug
fixes. They are urging developers to use their AJAX Search API ((Radar post) instead.
The AJAX Search API is great for web applications and users that
want to bling their blog, but does not provide the flexibility of the
SOAP API. I am surprised that it has not been replaced with a GData API
instead. The developer community has been discussing this and do not seem happy with the change. Discussion on the forums have pointed out that Yahoo! has a REST Search API. Live Search also has a SOAP API available.
I find it odd that Brady is surprised by this move. Brady used to work on the
MSN Windows Live Search team working on APIs and he should know first hand that the value of Search APIs was always questioned. Unlike data APIs which extend the reach of a service and add value via network effects such as the MetaWeblog API, Flickr API or the del.icio.us API, the search APIs provided by the major search engines do no such thing. With the data APIs one can argue that making it easier for people to add content to sites increases their value, on the other hand making it easier for people to run search queries without seeing highly lucrative search ads doesn't make much business sense.
This reminds me of a quote from Bill Gates taken by Liz Gannes in her report Bill Gates on the Future of Web Apps which is excerpted below
We each got to ask Gates one question. I asked which applications he
forecast to live within the browser and which outside of it.
He replied that the distinction would come to be silly from a
technical standpoint, but that the necessary movement toward web APIs
does present challenges on the business side. “One of the things that’s
actually held the industry back on this is, if you have an advertising
business model, then you don’t want to expose your capabilities as a
web service, because somebody would use that web service without
plastering your ad up next to the thing.”
His solution wasn’t very specific: “It’s ideal if you get business
models that don’t force someone to say ‘no, we won’t give you that
service unless you display something right there on that home page.”
The quote seems particularly relevant now when you consider that Google has replaced a web service with their AJAX Search API which is a widget that is easier to monetize. I'd also note that Scoble telegraphed that this move was coming in his post Google changes its monetization strategy toward a Microsoft one? which implies that Google AdSense will be bundled with usage of Google's search widgets.