Announcing a Change to Best Buy’s API Access

Since its inception, the Best Buy APIs program has been open to anyone with a valid email address. Our product and store information has been available to anyone willing to fill out an online form and provide us with a minimal amount of contact information. Sadly, this model is not sustainable nor is it conducive to a healthy community. If we want to have a better relationship with you, our active users, we need to make better connections between your alpha-numeric key and the services we provide to you.

Tl;dr: Best Buy will no longer support or provide API keys to those using free email services (e.g., Gmail/Yahoo).

Sound scary? Yeah, it might be. It’s nothing against free email. We have more than a couple Gmail users on our team and it provides a solid service. It’s how using those emails plays out once you are signing up for our APIs that gets dicey.

Here’s the deal: a large number of our keys are associated with a free email account, some of which are defunct. Inactive keys, whether or not the email is current, create clutter; any API program will have some of that clutter, but we want to manage it better. For keys in active use but without a good email address, we have no good way to communicate with the current user — some company or app somewhere is calling our APIs, and we don’t know who they are or how to reach them if we are introducing breaking changes. If we disable a key because the email address is old, we may break an app. We don’t like breaking things.

Over the next couple of months we will transition to a new system that will associate API keys with a company and not an individual. You may be a company of one, the sole API user at your company, or one of several users at your company, but your keys will roll into a single company-based account. This will give us better contact information for our users, and also provide improved insights about how you are using our APIs (which, in turn, should lead to less guesswork in what you want from our APIs).

So what does this mean for you? If you are currently signed up for your key using a Gmail or Yahoo-type email address, your key won’t be disabled tomorrow. We will work with you to transition your key to a company-based email address. Shoot us a note at developer@bestbuy.com and we’ll do our magic behind the scenes so you can continue to use your current key. If you haven’t signed up yet, be ready to have a company-based email account — we no longer take new key requests if the email listed is from a free email service.

Wait, you say, I’m a student/teacher/professor and I use your APIs for classroom projects or research. Can I use my .edu account? We are developing a program that we intend to have up and running before the start of the next school year that will accommodate educational use. Learning about technology and coding and using APIs is a very good thing — we want to help you do that in a way that makes better sense for you and for us. Similarly, we have ideas for how to accommodate events, hackathons and developer sandboxes to allow folks to test the waters without needing to go through a formal key sign up process.

Fundamentally we are and will continue to be proponents for open APIs. Innovation and new ideas happen best with an open marketplace of data. At this stage in our program’s maturity we are making this change to ensure we are providing the best service we can to you, our consumers.