The Car Building Analogy is Flawed
Because, there have been different outcomes.
The proposition is that if you offer an API, you can sell that multiple customers, as an alternator manufacturer might sell to more than one company.
Thing is, if you study the automotive sector, it’s nothing like that.
Suppliers who enter the Toyota sphere of influence end up supplying only Toyota. This is because doing business with Toyota is really, really very good, they’re very large, and who’d want to do business with Ford as well?
Honda have a reputation for doing an awful lot themselves.
The US manufacturers had a habit of driving suppliers into bankruptcy by not paying bills, which is why when the Japanese arrived in the US a lot of suppliers stopped supplying US companies.
Bosch do everything in Germany. Similarly in Italy and France. Traditionally everything British used everything Lucas had to offer, but that’s a period best kept in the dark.
Every single deal is going to be different, successful or pointless, or over or underwhelming. What might start out looking pointless could become a gold mine. Or, set up to supply a big time customer and you might go bust in the process. The point is that to sell an API you have to have the resources to deliver it, and a thing that no one else can reproduce. If you solve the resource problem by relying on, say, scalable cloud providers you’re just a middleman, ripe for being cut out, because as we well know APIs can be freely replicated…
The real value in business is always control of the end customer base… If you provide only an API, you’re not the most valuable bit of the business.