Amazon Expands Web Services with Developer Tools

Amazon is looking to build its developer community with the release ofnew Web services that make it easier to use Amazon e-commerce services andtake advantage of Amazon’s Alexa Web page information, browsing and searchcapabilities.

The Seattle-based company said its free Amazon E-Commerce Suite 4.0 woulddeliver better access to Amazon’s platform and product data, while the AlexaWeb Information Service (AWIS) would allow the first access ever to Amazon’sdatabase of Web site information and usage data.

Both Web services, releasedand available online, are being offered to developers free, but the AWISaccess and tools will be available at no cost only during a beta period, Amazonsaid.

“The aim is basically to help our developer community and to give themthe tools they need to create really cool and creative applications,” saidAmazon Web Services program manager Jeff Barr. Thecompany has registered more than 65,000 developers since sign-ups began twoyears ago, Barr told TechNewsWorld.

Appeasing Support

Amazon’s new e-commerce suite of Web servicesincludes customer reviews and more detailed information in productcategories. The company said its ECS 4.0 would givedevelopers improved shopping cart functionality and an easier-to-useapplication programming interface (API).

The new AWIS, based in Amazon’s 1999 acquisition of Alexa,would give developers with programming access the information of theservice’s Web Crawl — more than 100 terabytes of information such as URL,categories and meta data that can be browsed and searched.

According to Barr, Amazon hopes that the increased amount of data per item will whet the appetite of its developers.

“We’re really going to make sure we have access to all the newcategories,” he said.

Barr added that Amazon released the services specifically to meet theneeds of its developer community.

Developer Strength

Yankee Group senior analyst Zeus Kerravala, who said Amazon’s new Webservices represent “the promise of what Web services was always supposed tobring,” views the move as a necessary investment for Amazon.

“In really any market — e-commerce is no different — what makes anorganization valuable is the development community around it,” Kerravalatold TechNewsWorld. “The strength is going to come through the developercommunity.”

Kerravala said he expected to see more Web services announcements and theavailability of tools and technologies that allow true integration,indicating that Web services had now matured beyond mere marketing tosomething useful for developers.

“Now, we’re seeing what’s really possible, with practical solutions,” hesaid.

Support and Compete

Meta Group vice president Dan Sholler said the Alexa information and accesscould prove effective in nurturing developers and applications. From a Webservices perspective, Sholler said the Amazon announcement marks anevolutionary step that makes Web services more useable.

“It’s evidence the collection of technologies, tools and techniques hasgotten it to the point where there is some utilization,” Sholler toldTechNewsWorld. “In the short term, it’s possible we’ll see substantiallygreater numbers of these” types of services and announcements.

Sholler said that by providing the services, Amazon is successfully deliveringa level of service that competing commercial sites cannot match.

He added, however, that Amazon, as well as rivals such as eBay,may face pressure from the market and developers to consolidate technologiesand business processes to continue growing truly integrated Web services.

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