Not only have the Twitter platform and API enabled hundreds of 3rd-party applications, they have helped spawn 43 other APIs — or Application Programming Interfaces — as well as a decent number of application opportunities.
APIs, if you’re not familiar with them, are the coding means by which web services companies allow developers outside their employ to integrate their services into other applications. Companies like Twitter offer up a sort of “black box” of functionality that other developers can access, to build their own apps. As Programmable Web writes, the Twitter API itself has birthed no fewer than 43 other APIs at present. Some of them are relative unknowns, but some of the APIs are for fairly well known services, including TweetLater, TwitPic, and others.
This quantity of other APIs simply shows that Twitter has a thriving developer ecosystem. It also means that there are many opportunities for developing applications built over the Twitter platform to satisfy various needs. In that regard, VC Fred Wilson has a fascinating look at the Twitter platform’s inflection point, comparing the situation to how certain killer apps helped save Apple Computers — way back when the desktop publishing era first started — as well as to how popular apps are adding to the value of Facebook. He mentions that Comscore data indicates that Twitter’s global platform is the 33rd-largest in the world, as of Feb 2010. (Twitter’s first official developer’s conference, Chirp, takes place in San Francisco on Apr 14-15.)
Where does Fred Wilson see the opportunity for killer apps on the Twitter platform? In several areas, including social gaming, various verticals, enterprise, discovery and analytics, all of which he explains in more detail on his post. Personally, I think there’s a great deal of opportunity in the analytics area. Consider the recent report from two HP Labs researchers that they’ve devised a model that uses Twitter to predict box office sales for new movies. There’s also room for applications that manage the Twitter social graph, especially if these apps are targeted towards social marketers, entrepreneurs and others. As for social gaming, Twitter’s Evan Weaver, Manager of Infrastructure, pointed out at the recent GDC 2010 (Game Developers Conference) that the company is looking to hire engineers who could help build out the platform to enable 3rd-party developers to create social games. Add mobile devices such as smartphones and the iPad into the mix, and there are even more opportunities.
So the opportunities for applications are there, along with a wide array of Twitter-related APIs for development. What remains is for developers to determine how to monetize these applications.