Another View of The API vs. Data Download Model

I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of APIs over download of data stores in the government space, and I’m always on the lookout for other interesting examples of making data available via an API, as well as a full data download. I’m doing a lot of research right now on the financial API space, and stumbled across Quandl, a data provider who has free access financial data APIs, while also selling access to premium databases.

Quandl has aggregated 7 financial and economic databases into one database solution that you can pay to download, or you can freely access via their unlimited use API--Quandl puts it like this:

All these new premium databases will of course automatically benefit from Quandl’s free data-usage features: unrestricted API access, integration with 20+ libraries and tools, unlimited downloads in any format, multiple export and visualization options, and more. (Needless to say, the addition of these premium databases to Quandl will not change the “free Quandl experience” in any way. All data and all features that are currently available for free on Quandl, will remain free forever.)

It is an interesting approach to monetizing database assets, while also making freely available via an API. I’m not exactly clear on what you get in database vs. the API with Quandl, but now that I have the “building block” identified, I will keep an eye out for other API providers who are doing similar things. Right now I’m just looking at financial, banking, payment, and other commerce APIs, but I’m sure there are other data providers doing similar things.