Apigee launches API Exchange, hopes to add 15 wireless carriers by year-end

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Apigee today released its new API Exchange product for the telecom industry, which the company said creates a warehouse for operator APIs that application developers can access. The product essentially stands as a replacement for the GSMA's now-shuttered Wholesale Applications Community initiative.

"We have recast it in terms of what really works in the industry," explained Bala Kasiviswanathan, head of product management for Apigee.

The WAC launched in 2010 as a way for operators to expose their network APIs to developers. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and other operators supported the WAC, but the effort failed to generate traction. Last year the WAC was folded into the GSMA, and the WAC's technology assets were sold to Apigee. (The GSMA announced earlier this year it would use Apigee's technology to power its OneAPI Exchange, a service similar to what the WAC promised.) A week after purchasing the WAC's assets, Apigee announced it raised $20 million in venture funding, promising it would use the funds in part to building industry-specific API solutions that expand its platform into new markets.

Apigee's announcement today is essentially the result of that promise. Kasiviswanathan explained that Apigee launched its API Exchange for the telecommunication market first and hopes to expand the service to other verticals like healthcare in the future.

For the telecom market, Apigee's API Exchange currently supports APIs from AT&T, Deutsche Telekom (but not T-Mobile USA), Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone. Kasiviswanathan said Apigee's platform allows developers to build one version of their app that will work across all of the carriers that connect to Apigee's platform. The product currently supports three carrier APIs: a way for an app to add a charge to a user's wireless bill; a way for an app to access a carrier's messaging service; and a way for an app to use a user's phone number for identification.

Thus, using the product, a developer can build one version of an app for SMS messaging and use the same version to access the services from AT&T, Vodafone and Orange.

"The developer does not have to go and do multiple deals with multiple operators," Kasiviswanathan said. "We definitely have a great fragmentation in the telecommunications space."

Apigee said it is working to add additional operators to its API Exchange, and it expects to count 15 total operators on the platform by the end of the year.

Kasiviswanathan said Apigee charges its customers, like telecom carriers, every time a developer makes a call to one of their APIs. He said operators can decide whether to charge developers for access to their APIs or make that access free.

Wireless carriers aren't the only companies that funnel their APIs through Apigee. The company said Walgreens, Bechtel, eBay, Pearson, Gilt Groupe, Gracenote and a wide range of other companies also are customers.

For more:
- see this release

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Article updated March 28 to correct information about WAC. It was not initially a GSMA initiative.

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