eBay APIs: Innovation without barriers


Just days after announcing its RSS news, now eBay has confirmed that it is dropping their charges for use of their APIs.


This is big news, and as Josh says, a huge Web 2.0 announcement.


eBay's developer program is already hugely successful. Today, there are 2 billion API calls a month and something like 22% of all of eBay's listings revenue comes from third party developers. They have 10,000 affilitates, and 22,000 developers. After 5 years of providing their APIs to third parties and creating an amazing ecosystem - 10,000 affiliates and 22,000 developers - they are a true Web 2.0 posterchild.


According to News.com, up until today developers paid eBay between $1.25 to $2.90 per 1,000 items listed and an annual fee of $500.


This is now zero.


Adam Trachtenberg of eBay explains:



"For a long time, eBay’s offered up our API for both commercial and non-commercial usage, but we’ve always hampered ourselves by charging for access. The fees were low enough for commercial companies to write applications, but in a world where information wants to be free, we’ve been pricing out all the people who want to play with our data to see what interesting things they can build, remix, and give away.


Breaking down those barriers has been one of my primary goals since I joined eBay last summer. We got partly there in June, and we’ve completed the journey today. Now all I need is to do my job and convince you to start writing eBay applications because I can’t use the pricing excuse with my boss anymore."


Innovation without barriers


As Robert Scoble puts it:



"We’re in the middle of a new war for getting developer’s attention. Any API that tries to limit developers, or charge for its use, is just going to have slower growth than ones that are freely available."


Chris Law has an interview podcast with Greg Isaacs, Director Developers Program for eBay confrims the move:



"Greg - "We want to do two things by making the APIs free – number one to all of our developers who have been with us for a number of years say thank you and the second is around new developers, our motto is innovation without barriers. We want to remove as many barriers as possible. Let’s get rid of them and let developers do what they do best."


We'll start seeing many more eBay mash-ups now the cost of playing with eBay's APIs is now down to zero. Students and hobby developers, as well as the hardened pros that want to tinker will play have a chance to play for free and therefore create so many more new business opportunities for eBay and others. And this indeed is the whole point.


Examples eBay mash-ups:



Other more traditional software developers leveraging the eBay platform:


Comments (3)
  1. PatriotB says:

    Indeed, free access to APIs is crucial. Back in the Windows 3.0 days, Microsoft was giving away its SDK for free, while IBM was charging hundreds of dollars. And we all know how that turned out 🙂

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