Print Flickr Photos Using Just-Launched Qoop
Qoop just launched their public beta, which allows you to print out photos that you have uploaded to Flickr. The service is pretty nice, and I'm sure it will get better over time, but for me there's one big problem with it: you can't yet print out single photos. I can't imagine that printing out a collage of photos as a poster or in a book was at the top of everybody's list, and it seems more difficult to do than to print out single copies of photos. I'm sure it's coming soon, though.
The implementation model is pretty neat, too: Qoop uses Flickr's publically-available APIs to get at your photos--essentially, Flickr has outsourced its photo-printing capabilities through a mechanism that already existed. Neat.
Sujal has an interesting observation:
I got a [Flickr] pro account after I found FlickrExport, a plugin for iPhoto that allows users to export to Flickr directly from iPhoto. Itís that missing feature that Yahoo Photos or Ofoto didnít have. By having the API, a third party was able to create the missing feature, improving Flickr at the same time. Itís a great situation.
The main risk with doing this is that users can be more mobile. In other words, they can export data to a competing service, especially if the competing service simply implements the public API. Also, sites that rely on advertising for revenue may not want users looking at content on other sites or applications. For example, ESPN.com doesnít offer full stories via RSS because it would cut into our advertising (RSS is essentially a web API for content).
Making a publically available API for the data you collect forces you to keep making your products better. Open APIs are powerful statement to customers that you believe your product will continue to be best-of-breed, and a powerful incentive to you to make sure it stays that way.