Netflix: Welcoming a New API for the Social Web

Netflix Developer Network

Yesterday, I learned in a piece by Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb that Netflix would be opening up an API today. According to Marshall:

the API will allow access to data for 100,000 movie and TV episode titles on DVD as well as Netflix account access on a user’s behalf.

So I checked this morning, and indeed the company has taken the password restriction off of a new Netflix Developer Network site.

This is a great move for Netflix, and it fits in a broader “opening up” trend, in which sites of all sites are making social mashups a central part of their strategies for growth. The Netflix API and site were developed by Mashery, a company that has been making some great moves lately. As covered by Brad Stone of the New York Times, Mashery was also behind the recently launched APIs for Best Buy and for MTV. Great to see the new API uses OAuth for secure access to the data!

Here’s the official blogpost from Netflix. It includes this great section on why they did it:

Why are we doing this? Because we have limited resources and we can only work on so many items at once. We hope that by opening up our APIs we will enable the creative desires of other developers to make a variety of wonderful applications. We expect to see different movie finding approaches, queue management tools, mobile phone applications, social network applications, the integration of Netflix information and capabilities into a variety of other applications, and more. And that, in the end, will further delight our members and other movie watchers in their quest to find and watch movies they’ll love.

Chatting with my colleague and co-host, Joseph Smarr, Plaxo’s chief platform architect, I asked him for his thoughts on the new API. He said, “This is a truly awesome API release. It shows that Netflix is genuinely committed to giving their users full control over their data, and doing it with open standards like OAuth and a familiar REST interface with JSON and ATOM output. Developers couldn’t ask for more, and I’m sure we’ll see incredible uses of this API popping up very soon. We’ll certainly be using it at Plaxo!”

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