How Not To Describe Your Platform

Link: PayPal Taps the Developer Community to Build Next-Gen Payment Apps

We haven’t actually released new APIs; what we have done is that we announced a set of APIs on November 3rd, which was our adaptive suite. Adaptive suite APIs include adaptive payments and adaptive accounts. Then we also announced our authentications and permissions API. What we had done at Innovate was to make those APIs exclusive — adaptive account, authentications and permissions, exclusive to the attendees of the conference. We did a full-on release for those APIs on November 3rd when we announced the platform. But we’ve had an overwhelming response from the community where people where saying, “You’re limiting us from actually using these APIs. Is there any ability for us to get these early on rather than to wait until 2010?” Based on the feedback, based on what people were looking for, we decided to open it up to everyone now, instead of sometime in 2010.

This quote is from Naveed Anwar of PayPal. It’s supposed to shed some light on the new PalPal platform. But I feel like I’ve been following the reboot of the PayPal platform for a month and a half now, and I’m still not sure I understand just how it’s supposed to help me. Apparently there is some conference that I was supposed to have attended? And if there are no new APIs, what has changed? Adaptive suite? What is that?

It’s not really possible to get the information you’d want from their web site, which at the moment is dominated by information about a new developer contest. (Developer contests are problematic on their own, as I’ve written about here previously.)

I’m really concerned that PayPal, like Yahoo and others, is going to miss a huge opportunity here by failing to articulate its vision in a straightforward way. (On second thought, screw the vision. Maybe just focus on saying what your products and services do on your web page first.)