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What is a Platform?

over 3 years ago | From Sarver.org | Author: Ryan Sarver

I thought the best way to open a series of posts about platforms is to actually talk about what is a platform. Software platforms have been around for a long time and many of the same principles and dynamics apply across the changing times and technologies.

I want to start off by recommending some homework. I found a book early in my time at Twitter, called Invisible Engines, that helped me greatly in understanding the dynamics and economics of platforms. A lot of how I think about platforms was shaped by that book and you’ll see many of the concepts repeated here. While it looks long, you can focus on a few key chapters to make it an easy read. You can download it as a free eBook from the MIT Press.

Now, let’s go back to June of 2007 — the iPhone has just launched. The only applications allowed on the phone were the ones that Apple built and pre-installed. No Facebook, Pandora, Twitter, Evernote, Uber, Angry Birds, Netflix, Square, and so on. Each one of those applications went on to thrust the iPhone into huge new markets....

       

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