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Platform Buzz September 25, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The Journal is rumoring about Microsoft possibly taking a stake in Facebook. And the P-word comes up. That’s p for “Platforms.” You know my take. There are four serious consumer-Internet platform contenders: Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft; and a couple wannabes: Facebook, Yahoo.

You don’t have to be a platform to be a winner in Internet media or commerce of course. But it might help.

Platform definition, in this context:

JupiterResearch defines a “platform” as a set of core technologies and services that other applications and services, from other companies, can use. These core technologies often include application-programming interfaces, file formats, user interface elements, and, these days, syndicated Web services. Google extends the notion of platform to include revenue streams or business models—for example, paid search and keyword-based contextual advertising—that partners can plug into. Platforms spawn economic ecosystems and feedback loops, and are solidified by habitual usage. Successful ecosystems must offer value to all links—user, partner, and platform provider. Paid search epitomizes that kind of win/win/win situation.

Operating systems, game consoles and the iPod are also platforms, of course, in their own fields. Offhand, I can’t think of a successful platform merger — though there are many partnerships — just some disasters (Novell-Unix, AOL-Netscape, Sony’s intra-company efforts so far).

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