How Does Third-Party Developers' Adoption of a Platform’s APIs Influence Their Continued New App Development? | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

How Does Third-Party Developers' Adoption of a Platform’s APIs Influence Their Continued New App Development?

Design and Innovation Research Seminar


We investigate whether and how adoption of a platform’s APIs by third-party app developers drives their continued development of new apps. Our study takes into account the following: 1) the interdependence between different development choices of third-party developers (updating existing apps, new app development in their existing app categories, and new app development in new app categories); 2) different types of APIs (high-level APIs and low-level APIs) based on the level of abstraction, modularization, and development standardization; and 3) the competitive environment faced by third-party developers. We use the data about a major web browser platform to directly assess the impact of API adoption by developers on their continued new app development for the platform. We develop a joint frailty model and perform a competing risk analysis using this granular data on API adoption choices and developer contributions to a platform ecosystem. Our results show that developers who adopt platform APIs are more likely to develop new apps both in their existing app categories and in new categories. In contrast, developers who adopt platform APIs with a high level of abstraction are less likely to continue their app updates and also exhibit less new app development than those developers who adopt low-level platform APIs. In addition, we find that developer competition strengthens the positive impact of high-level platform API adoption on new app development in new app categories and weakens the positive impact of high-level platform API adoption on new app development in existing categories.  Our results together advance our theoretical understanding about how APIs can be designed and deployed to affect the value generated from complementors in platform ecosystems.


Arun Rai is Regents’ Professor of the University System of Georgia at the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and holds the Robinson and Harkins.  He is serving as the Editor-in-Chief of MIS Quarterly and is a Fellow of the Association for Information Systems and a Distinguished Fellow of the INFORMS Information Systems Society. For over 30 years, Dr. Rai’s research has examined how organizations can leverage information technologies in their strategies, inter-organizational relationships, and processes, and how systems can be successfully deployed to address business and societal problems. He has chaired 30 doctoral dissertations and several of his former Ph.D. students hold leadership positions at their universities, leading scholarly journals, and professional organizations. He has also played a leadership role in developing interdisciplinary and executive education programs. Dr. Rai co-founded the Robinson College of Business’ Center for Process Innovation (CEPRIN), an interdisciplinary research center on digital innovation that promotes industry-university partnerships. He has served as Senior Editor and Associate Editor for Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, and Management Science, and as a panelist for the National Science Foundation.

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 from 10:30 a.m. to noon
Peter B. Lewis Building, Room 118
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Arun Rai, PhD, Georgia State University
Sponsored by: Design and Innovation Department


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