It’s all about platforms

This is my theme of the year 2010. It’s all about platforms.

2010: The Year of Platforms

I think 2010 is going to be the Year of Platforms. Not Snake-Oil-as-A-Service. Real honest-to-goodness heavy-lifting platforms. The stuff that makes it possible for everyone to have Everything-As-A-Service.

Some of you think that platforms are passe, so 2007. Some of you think that platforms are cloud-cuckoo-land, to be filed alongside the Paperless Office and the Paperless Loo. To my mind there’s something very William Gibson-ish about platforms: the future’s already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.

In 2010, we will see this distribution become more even. We use platforms every day, it’s just not that obvious to us. A credit card is a platform, as Richard Schmalensee and David Evans pointed out so vividly in Paying With Plastic. An airport is a platform. Facebook is a platform, as is Twitter. As is LinkedIn. If you’re using a smartphone to read this, then you’re probably using a platform: both iPhone as well as Android are platforms. If you’re at a desktop and using Firefox and WordPress, as I am, they’re platforms as well. Amazon.com is a platform, as is Force.com. Ribbit, the reason I spend a good deal of time in San Francisco, is a platform. Each with its own ecosystem. Each working with other platforms in a co-opetitive, almost fractal way.

So just what is a platform? A place. A device. A company. An everyday item. Bits of software. All of the above.

When I say “platform” I mean:

  • something that is a foundation, an enabling environment, upon which others can build things, make things
  • something that exists for a specific purpose (or set of purposes), and which invests in capabilities related to those purposes
  • something that then makes it easy for people to use those capabilities
  • something that does all this in a commercial model that facilitates the creation and development of new products, new services, new markets, new marketplaces
  • something that can coexist with other platforms and ecosystems

Published by Sylvain Carle

Venture Technologist. Internet and Media Geek. Homebase on the web is at www.afroginthevalley.com and physically grounded in Montréal.

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