Years ago, when developers such as myself started the transition away from OS-specific APIs to web APIs, we believed that doing so would empower our software and save it from the confines of the desktop.
And we were right.
But we've also learned that while web APIs enable us to tap into a wealth of data, they can only be relied upon in the short term. The expiration date of software we create has been shortened due to the whims of those who create the web APIs we rely on.
I wrote the first version of HomeSite back in 1994, and seventeen years later I can still run it on the latest version of Windows.
I created FeedDemon 1.0 in 2003, and it was the first app I wrote that relied on web APIs. Now those APIs no longer exist, and almost every version of FeedDemon since then has required massive changes due to the shifting sands of the web APIs I've relied on.
You might think you're immune to this problem if you only integrate with APIs created by large players such as Twitter, Facebook and Google. But in recent years we've seen Twitter switch to a new authentication system, Facebook deprecate FBML, and Google discontinue several APIs. All of these changes have broken, or will break, existing apps.
The end result is that developers are spending more time upgrading their software to ensure that it continues to work with web APIs they've integrated with, and less time adding the features and refinements that would really benefit their customers.
That's a long-term failure, any way you look at it.