Mashups are the pulling together of multiple Web services—via open interfaces—to create something new.
The key to mashups are open APIs on today's Web services. Those open interfaces let developers—and in some cases, using WYSIWYG tools, mainstream users—create new applications that pull together, or mash up, pieces of other applications. The classic example is a map application that combines Google Maps with some other source of data, such as traffic feeds or coffee shop locations.
Marketers can create mashups—imagine adding sales locations to a live map—or they can create APIs into customer data streams that others can use in mashups of their own. The big idea here is most important:
On the Web, applications aren't standalone things but combinations of multiple open services.
Two tech blogs cover this best:
Mashable, which takes a big picture look, and Programmable Web, where you can find comprehensive lists of hundreds of mashup-ready APIs. Yahoo Pipes and Microsoft Popfly let nontechies build mashups.
Web services, Web 2.0, AJAX and rich media.
Wireless becomes like the Web as individuals, not carriers, freely mix and match networks, devices and content.
Mobile operators have ruled the wireless world. Carriers offer users a selection of phones, tendering device discounts in exchange for two-year contracts, locking customers in and making it hard to move to another carrier network. Once on the phone, carriers deliver “walled gardens” of content and advertising. Unlike the Web, you get what operators offer on their mobile portals and not much else. That is changing—big time. Mobile operators such as Verizon have announced plans to open up their networks to all devices and apps. Google is trying to buy wireless spectrum. Congress and the Federal Communications Commission are pushing “net neutrality.” And mobile browsers, led by Apple's iPhone, have made it possible for users to really
surf the whole Web, ending the walled garden approach.
Mobile is the future. But walled-garden mobile is one thing; open mobile, quite another. For starters, content providers, marketers and advertisers will no longer be forced to work through carriers or device makers to make a mobile push (though those types of companies may still be key partners). More likely, the open mobile Web will evolve like the Web itself—the best content and marketing messages will win.
This story is blowing up all over, but watch for key tipping points this month as Verizon publishes its network specs; the FCC names the winners of the 700 MHz spectrum auction; and Apple releases the iPhone software developers kit, enabling an explosion of third-party iPhone applications.
Net Neutrality, mobile broadband networks (3G), open source and open APIs. M