Pinterest has an API done and ready for developers, but it hasn’t released it to the public yet.
And it might not release it for a while, says an industry source familiar with Pinterest’s plans. This source says that Pinterest fears having a “Twitter problem.”
An API, or application programming interface, allows developers to build apps using Pinterest data.
Twitter released its API when it was still an immature company, allowing developers to build applications with features that it was missing. When Twitter matured, and it wanted to control its platform, it began adding those features, thus damaging those developers.
For instance, Twitpic, which built a way to share photos is now threatened because Twitter added native photo sharing. HootSuite, and Twitterrific, which build great mobile apps were crushed when Twitter started putting more effort into its own mobile apps.
As Twitter began competing with its developers, the developer community turned against Twitter. It didn’t really trust Twitter.
Pinterest doesn’t want that to happen. It’s a very young company and it’s just getting started, says our source. It doesn’t want developers to build features/applications that it plans on building, and then alienate those developers by building similar features.
Also, our source says Pinterest is, “more Apple than Google.” It believes in design and control and doesn’t want other people mucking with the look and feel of what it’s building.
This is important because if Pinterest is going to make the leap, and become a $5 billion company like VCs think, it has to become a platform. That’s how web companies become big.
It’s also important because VCs are excited to fund a wave of startups that build on the Pinterest platform.
For now, those VCs and startups have to sit tight. Pinterest is staying closed for a while longer.