Go to ProgrammableWeb's homepage and you're not going to find a corporate "About Us" section. Old-school types who think physical location is important can't even find out where the company is based (Seattle, in case you're interested). But developers have gone there since 2005 to use the Web as a development platform and gain access to 2,034 application programming interfaces (APIs), 4,898 mash-ups, how-to guides, code, libraries and tools.
The quietly big news is that ProgrammableWeb has been acquired by Alcatel-Lucent as the next building block in the vendor's effort to create an application enablement strategy focused on combining secure network capabilities with the speed and creativity of Web developers' APIs to emphasize the network as the platform. Alcatel-Lucent has been rolling out the program as a service layer architecture for carriers and app developers since December 2009. And the rolling will continue.
There's not much chance ProgrammableWeb will splash the news on its homepage -- maybe a small notice about Alcatel-Lucent sponsorship. Nothing flashy for the company, which will continue to run independently because it's all about the apps. For Alcatel-Lucent, however, the ProgrammableWeb acquisition is a big deal because it is a place where service providers, enterprises and developers can create applications that take advantage of network capabilities rather than only device-specific APIs like handsets, which lean heavily toward 3G and 4G broadband mobile APIs. ProgrammableWeb's directory already lists hundreds of mobile, video-sharing, mapping, photos, messaging and telephony APIs and mashups.
"We want to shift the mindset that the application platform can and should be the network," said Laura Merling, vice president of Alcatel Lucent's Global Developer Platform Solutions Group. "The functionality could be cross-network or cross device, and we're interested in tying it to the interests of the network."