Yahoo Pulls Plug on Shopping API

I’ve been getting a few pings from folks regarding Yahoo’s plans to transition its Shopping property to a third party. My team at Yahoo launched the Shopping API in August 2005 (although I don’t work for Yahoo anymore so I can’t provide insider answers on what’s going on here).

Since the new partner service (PriceGrabber) apparently doesn’t have a public API, that essentially kills this API. Killing an API is a very big deal, not just because it kills applications — it kills your credibility as a platform provider. I’d be very reticent about adopting any technology integration provided by Yahoo until things settle down over there. That said, there would have been a potentially interesting opportunity for PriceGrabber to provide a compatible API and make the developer switchover fairly seamless. It’s anyone’s guess as to why they elected to not do that.

Ben Metcalfe has some “cautionary” words which I think describes Yahoo’s lack of developer/platform strategy pretty well. The company’s developer releases over the past few years have mostly fallen flat for a variety of reasons (lack of business value for third parties being foremost, I would say, although there’s also a very unfortunate lack of organizational focus and unclear articulation of product strategy and tactics at work here as well). It was not clear to me that enough of Yahoo’s execs valued third-party developers in 2006 when I left the company, but it’s quite clear that they value third-party developers and open integration even less today.