These days, it seems that every startup worth its salt (or at least, a lot of them) are offering some sort of API — an interface that allows third-party developers to interact with the startup’s data. The benefits to offering an API are clear: a developer community can build cool stuff on top of your service faster than your company can, and you can hopefully build a greater userbase as a result.
Once you have a community building on your API it’s obviously a good idea to showcase the apps they’ve built to users, but this can get tricky — it’s not trivial to manage a directory of apps. TechCrunch Disrupt finalist AppBistro wants to make this easier, and tonight it’s previewing a product called AppBistro AppStores at I/O Ventures Demo Day that may be one solution.
CEO Ryan Merket says that companies often consider creating a directory of applications that are tapping into their API, but give up when they realize how much legwork is involved. AppBistro already had to solve this problem to build its core product, which is a Facebook Page app marketplace. And with AppStores, the startup is going to whitelabel this underlying technology so that other companies can quickly launch their own directories.
So what exactly does this technology entail? Merket says that most of the front-end work would be fairly trivial for another company to build itself, but that the AppStores system will include features like threaded commenting to facilitate communication between a service and its third-party dev community, and queues to help ingest new apps. AppBistro will also allow other companies to use its payments system, so they could conceivably monetize by selling these third-party apps built on top of their APIs.
Merket thinks that most services will initially use these AppStores to promote third-party apps for free, but there’s definitely a trend toward selling web apps at a premium (see Google’s upcoming Chrome Web Store, for example). And it isn’t hard to imagine a world where a web service gives a third-party app living on its API some prime directory real estate in exchange for a cut of their proceeds.
The feature isn’t live yet —it will launch in November with a handful of beta partners including email marketing firm Constant Contact (Zappos is in talks with AppBistro as well), with plans to launch the white-label platform more broadly in the next few months (there’s a waiting list here). In addition to the AppStores product, AppBistro also intends to keep pushing forward with its core Facebook app market.