Post-Hype, Wolfram Alpha Turns On Its API And Preps An iPhone App

Screen shot 2009-10-15 at 11.21.18 AMWhile Wolfram Alpha, the website, has so far failed to capture the imagination of the public in a meaningful way, the core idea has always been about the data. And it does contain data that is interesting, and potentially quite useful if presented in the right way. And now others can try to figure that out, as that data takes center stage with the launch of Wolfram Alpha’s API today.

The company expects the API (which will reside here when it goes live later today) to be useful for a number of things including injecting data into other websites, mobile applications, cloud computing apps, and even blog posts and articles that need certain data.

As we reported this past summer, one such website using this data will be Microsoft’s search engine Bing. But before that, the first use of the API will be with the soon-to-be-released Wolfram Alpha iPhone app. And the iPhone app actually served as a test case to make sure the API was ready to go, we’re told.

Data from comScore suggests that after starting fast out of the gate, and bottoming-out in July, Wolfram Alpha’s traffic is moving in the right direction again (see chart). Might this iPhone app, and the API further fuel a post-hype comeback? We’ll see, but they can’t hurt. More importantly, both will further emphasize what Wolfram Alpha considers its key asset, its computational knowledge.

From a technical perspective, this API “operate as a REST-style webservice, and can be called from any internet-connected computer or device and can be used with any programming language that supports HTTP and XML,” we’re told.