launches "telephony mashup" category
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Telephony - It's the API's, stupid!

After already publishing my last post about mashups, I came across Jim Courtney's Skype Journal post about the Skype mashup competition, which in turn led me to Thomas Howe's excellent "API of the week" post (got all that?) which had these wonderfully-written words (so much so that I feel compelled to excerpt them here, something I seldom do to this extent):

If you were to ask me, I would say the twenty year old software engineer has a distinct advantage over the older telephone guys (such as me) in the realm of innovation.  Since the barriers to entry to deploying a service provider have fallen through the floor, the larger challenge is not in complex engineering, but is instead in innovation.   The younger engineers are free of the legacy of the PSTN, and many things would occur to an experienced engineer won't to them, and it's not a bad thing. 


What does this have to do with telephony? Nothing. What does this have to do with next generation applications? Everything.  Applications that use the Internet as the platform use APIs from a large number of sources, and by and large, these APIs are not telephony. However, nearly every time a telephony API is used, an API such as GoogleMaps, Amazon SQS or DBPedia will be used right alongside it.  As a developer in this market, it makes a lot of sense for you to get to know your neighbors for two reasons. First, the more you can make your API play well with others, the faster the adoption of it will be. Secondly, the more you can understand your customers, their problems and how they need your part for their solution, the better you can make your API for them.   I'm supposing this means that you need to get familiar with APIs like this.

Which leads me back to my original statement.  The twenty-something-don't-know-or-care-about-SS7 engineer will sit down and design their version of the hot-or-not site one day, and use a whole bunch of crazy APIs to put together the application.  Then, they will go have a beer, come back, and say "You know, it would be really cool if you could just call the person you want to hook up with.  Is there an API for that?"  They won't even consider for a minute the words "termination", "LATA" or "CALEA".  They're just writing an application.  They need an API for some function, and it will take a few minutes to integrate it into their application.  And, there are many, many more of these guys than all the telecom engineers that have ever, and will ever, exist.


Well, said, Thomas! (Read his original post for the full text.) And to copy a former US President:  "It's the API's, stupid!"