LinkedIn Battens Down The Hatches On API Use, Limiting Full Access To Partners

LinkedIn has examined the value of offering an open API to all developers, and found said program not to be in the company’s best interest. The professional network announced today that it would be restricting broad API use to approved partners only, and restricting open API use to a few simple use cases, including these specified by LinkedIn itself:

  • Allowing members to represent their professional identity via their LinkedIn profile using the Profile API.
  • Enabling members to post certifications directly to their LinkedIn profile with the Add to Profile tools.
  • Enabling members to share professional content to their LinkedIn network from across the Web leveraging the Share API.
  • Enabling companies to share professional content to LinkedIn with the Company API.

Use of anything beyond that will require membership in LinkedIn’s partnership programs, which are not easy to get into and which in truth mean most small developers without deep pockets or ample time likely won’t be able to partake. At the same time as it’s locking the majority of access down, it’s also debuting a new Android SDK that will hep people use LinkedIn credentials to log in to third-party apps, and then link directly to network member profiles within the same app.

LinkedIn’s clamp down is far from unexpected, however. The company effectively limited a number of integrations to only two major partners, Microsoft and Salesforce, last year, and they clearly want to direct more traffic to LinkedIn itself, where user engagement is much more likely to result in actual revenue.

The new arrangement has precedent at other companies seeking to achieve similar goals: Twitter famously restricted use of its API back in 2012, effectively crippling the development of third-party clients and limiting the possible uses of data from its network among non-partner entities. The goal for Twitter, too, was to route more users direct through Twitter’s first-party web and mobile app destinations, which in turn boosts audience for ads and drives further marketing opportunities.