Although the API for rapidly growing social network "Pinterest" is done and ready for developers, it has not been released to the public yet.
Why Stay Closed?
According to Business Insider, Pinterest fears having a "Twitter problem." An API, or application programming interface, allows developers to build apps using Pinterest data.
But Does Twitter Really Have A Problem?
Sure, Twitter released their API when they were still an immature company, and this allowed 3rd party developers to fill in the gaps Twitter missed. And yes, when Twitter circled back and realized they wanted to "own" some of those concepts, they did piss off a lot of developers, but did it really hurt Twitter? I would argue it hurt the developers but not really the platform. Without the push from third party devs to accelerate the growth of the platform I think it's reasonable to say Twitter would not have taken off the way it did. And even now, when the dust has settled and the Twitter ecosystem is back on course, there is still a symbiotic relationship with 3rd party devs and Twitter, both helping each other to grow.
Did Twitter Do It Right?
Probably not. It was a roller coaster ride with Twitter in the early days, and a lot of good devs jumped ship. But, without some of the really innovative apps to push Twitter into the mainstream, I'm just not sure there'd be much of a network to talk about. Apps like HootSuite, MarketMeSuite, and the recently sunsetted CoTweet have found ways to pull in a business audience, from Small to Enterprise, while Twitter itself can focus more on the consumer market.
What Can Pinterest Learn?
Pinterest may be wise to think a bit more carefully about how they wish to grow, but I would caution them against being too closed off. The social web is dependent on outside developers to keep things moving and keep things relevant. If not, there will be another "Pinterest" style app that springs up with a commitment to openness and Pinterest may find themselves in the company of other social media platforms gone wrong, like MySpace and the very ancient "Friendster."
Do you think Pinterest is being smart or too careful? Connect with me on twitter @tammykfennell or comment below. I've only just started pinning, so I'd love to connect with readers there and follow some interesting boards! pinterest.com/tammykfennell/