Building a business is hard. Building a business that depends on other businesses is hard. We would like it if all of our vendors stuck around forever, but this is not the reality of doing business in today's climate. My stance on this situation that nothing lasts forever, but startups and the enterprise could be more honest about the business of startups, which is seriously beginning to impact the trust we all have in the platforms, tools, and APIs we depend on for our businesses.
I was working my way through some legacy tweets and I came across Parse's Twitter home page, which I think sums up the promise being made by each wave of startups and the end results of these promises — although I have to say that Parse actually handled it pretty well compared to other startups that I have seen in action.
Building apps is not easy. However, we need solutions that will get us all the way there. I actually think that in the end, Parse handled it pretty well (better than StackMob did) when Paypal bought them. In the end, you could take the open-source version of Parse and install it, and they communicated the deprecation pretty well — giving folks quite a bit of time to take care of business. However, this is the way it should be from day one. There should be APIs and open source available to ease operation and migration, as well as communication about what the future will hold.
If API-focused startups don't start being more honest about their true business strategy and the realities of the future from day one, fewer developers and users will buy what is being sold. Sure, there will always be new waves of young developers who will still believe, but the more experienced folks — the ones who are often in charge of making purchasing decisions — will become increasingly skeptical about baking in APIs into their operations, screwing this up for the rest of us trying to actually make a living and not just get rich.