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Innovation in assembly

This blog will look at  the concept “Innovation in assembly“, the third of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly.

Lightweight business models are a natural concomitant of lightweight programming and lightweight connections. The Web 2.0 mindset is good at re-use. A new service like housingmaps.com was built simply by snapping together two existing services. Housingmaps.com doesn’t have a business model (yet)–but for many small-scale services, Google AdSense (or perhaps Amazon associates fees, or both) provides the snap-in equivalent of a revenue model.

These examples provide an insight into another key web 2.0 principle, which we call “innovation in assembly.” When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways. Much as the PC revolution provided many opportunities for innovation in assembly of commodity hardware, with companies like Dell making a science out of such assembly, thereby defeating companies whose business model required innovation in product development, we believe that Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for companies to beat the competition by getting better at harnessing and integrating services provided by others.”

 – O’Reilly

The world wide web has grown at a fast rate and will continue to.  Re-use is a great term to describe Web 2.0, with all the data and API’s available out there business/companies can customize and create applications like never before. This is know as “Innovation in assembly“.

What is an API?

An API is also know as “Application programming interface“. It is an interface implemented by an application which allows other applications to communicate with it. So why is it needed? This is because there needs to be communication between platforms and applications. Just imagine Notepad couldn’t copy-paste to and from microsoft word or google chrome, you would have to type everything out even though it is already on notepad!  This is only one of the examples of communication between applications and all this communication is made possible via APIs. This type of innovation brings speed and efficiency to our everyday use of the World Wide Web. Right lets take a look at an API that is useful throughout the world.

Bing Translation API!

bing_babelfish       bingapp

Bing Translator is one of many services offered by bing. Bing  (known previously as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search) is a web search engine from Microsoft. Bing Translator’s main rival is google translator , these 2 translation services allows everyone in the world to use it. This is such a great tool particularly with people travelling around to various countries where they many not be familiar with the language there. The API allows developers to create mobile apps or even implement the translator into their application. So what are the benefits of the Bing Translation API?

– Increased Bing’s popularity/exposure
– New products and innovations developed

Let’s look at the best practices that  Bing Translation API has adopted-

1) Offer APIs to your service-

Bing offers many services including map services, search services and translator services. All these services have API’s that are available for people to use.

2) Design for remixability

Apart from the usual one language translating to another, one interesting application that has used bings API to remix and design is 2lingual Bing search. 2lingual Bing search is a search engine that uses bing translator API to split users search into both languages.


3) Use existing standards

The API can be used with either REST, SOAP or JavaScript protocol and responses are formatted in XML or JSON.

4) Build your business model into you API

With Bing being a search engine, the translator fits well into the business model, for example users might want to translate a sentence from English into Chinese by using the Bing search option they can easily translate into the chinese language without needed to use other translator services.

5) Use web 2.0 to support your platform – Using the Web 2.0 patterns, Bing translations harnesses the data of its users and developers to create new linguistic services (voice recognition services).

6) Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty – The competition from other translation services such as Google translate and other translation sites is no doubt intense and fierce. By making their API open to the public this allows bing to gain customer trust and loyalty.


What Bing translator has shown is not only does the application provide a way of translating languages from the internet, but by providing an API to the general public it brings in innovation assembly. Developers can now use the API key to develop various types of applications or implementing it within their website/application. 


9 thoughts on “Innovation in assembly

  1. You have raised some good points Andy. Did you come across any points as to how API’s actually help the service provider see how their customers actually use the service as opposed to it’s original intentions?

    I think releasing API’s is a great way to see what your customers think and help you gather very valuable feedback about how useful your service is. What do you think?

    I did some research on PayPal and how it used API’s to rise to the top, check it out if you want to do some extra readings. The link is http://aleksspirkoski.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/the-success-of-web2-0-apps-is-in-the-way-theyre-put-together/

    • Actually i didn’t come across how the API has helped the service provide see how their customers actually use their services..but i assume it would be to use the API for translation purposes..such as websites/mobile apps etc

      I totally agree that realising API’s is a great way to see what your customers think and how they are using it, the feedback gather is crucial because Bing can then see if they need to make changes or not!

  2. Hi Andy,

    Excellent post!

    I am a big fan of the metaphor and I think you absolutely nailed a great metaphor for what APIs are with your cut and paste out of notepad to word. You describe with a very simple, succinct example a phenomenon that people often complicate unnecessarily. Well done.

    The integration bing translator has seems to be quite large compared with everything else bing, it seems to me that usually Google blows bing out of the water. I presume by using it as an example you have some personal experience with it? Some of my friends who have English as a second language often rave about bing translator and rate it more highly that Google’s. Would you agree with this?

    I look forward to reading next week. You can check out my blog at http://adamhijazi.wordpress.com



    • Thanks for reading Adam, well i myself uses translators i think both are the same however i only just recently found out about Bing translator. The API that is offered no doubt helps the general public to create and assemble great applications.

  3. Hi Andy,
    I have been using Google Translator for some time already but I have seen Bing Translator in action many times too. Most recently, I have seen Bing Translator in Facebook and I guess the open API was used. Bing has a lot to catch up to Google in terms of popularity but with Microsoft Windows 8, things seems to be catching up.


  4. Hi Andy

    I’m the type of person who do most things on Google and Translation is not an exception. Bing translation API is very interesting since many website can use it to the fullest extent such as a website that provide alternative languages while the original website was written in English. Perhaps you can tell me more about Bing translator. Is it accurate in translation especially in Asian languages? It would be very useful since Asian especially China has a wide range of websites that contain lots of data that sometimes we can’t find anywhere else and the only option is to either learn Chinese or translation so it could be at least readable.

    Prapat W.

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