What if Starbucks was offering up a Starbucks API–a set of hooks into a vast, efficient coffee shop support system with incredible economies of scale? You, the local coffee shop owner, simply plug in, and wham, your costs drop by thirty percent because you’re leveraging Starbucks’ insanely optimized supply chain. You can use as much or as little as you want.
It’s funny, just this weekend a friend of mine was telling me a story about a chain restaurant not being able to open in his town because of a law against that sort of thing. So instead the restaurant just opened under a different name with some local flavor and did amazingly well, to this day many who go there (and sing its praises) have no idea it’s part of a chain they’d likely avoid at all cost in any other city. Seriously, though, there’s something really interesting about the idea of physical APIs. I’ve been thinking a lot about franchising lately, and the interesting ways that the web allows people to pick up ideas and bring them to new places (see: likemind). Need to think about this one more.