An Acceptable Business Model Page For Your API Platform

One thing I look at closely when I review API platforms is how they approach the monetization of their API resources, and the resulting plans, pricing, and access tiers. How platforms think about, and present this aspect of their operations provide a wealth of insights into what a company's motivations are behind their API operations.

I found the approach by 3D printing API platform i.materialise to be an interesting approach which goes beyond just charging for API access and focuses on helping API consumers align their business model with i.materialises. i.materialise presents API consumers with two possible routes, with the first being referral based, and the second being a deeper, white label relationship.


The i.materialise API provides consumers with access to a  full stack of 3D printing APIs, allowing you to upload your model, determine what it will cost to print, all the way to assisting you with order fulfillment, delivery, and invoicing. The i.materialise approach to API monetization is different than other APIs I talk about because it's not about paying for API access. In this situation, it's about providing API access to the manufacturing life cycle -- one that is 3D printer driven. 

While I think utility-based, pay as you go API pricing represent the majority of how we approach API consumption at the moment, I think having your business model aligned, and focused on existing, tangible products and services holds a huge amount of untapped potential for APIs. I'm thinking there are endless numbers of small business out there who would benefit from the process of mapping out their product supply chain and service lifecycles, then the opening up of things as a simple web API--even if it is just for internal, and trusted partner use.