The Age of the Platform

How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business

Over the last five to seven years, four companies have ascended to absolutely astounding heights. They are Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, aka The Gang of Four. Yes, these companies excel via their superior use of technology. They have built incredible ecosystems. They’ve embraced partnerships and external innovation. Beyond all of this, The Gang of Four has embraced an entirely new way of doing business: the platform:

A platform is simply a set of integrated planks. The most powerful platforms today have two things in common:

  • They are rooted in equally powerful technologies—and their intelligent usage. In other words, they differ from traditional platforms in that they are not predicated on physical assets, land, and natural resources.
  • They benefit tremendously from vibrant ecosystems (read: partners, developers, users, customers, and communities).

While platforms inhere a great deal of potential commercial appeal and applications, they do not exist simply as a means for companies to hawk their wares. At their core, platforms today are primarily about consumer utility and communications. Finally, because consumer tastes change much faster than business’ tastes, platforms today must adapt very quickly—or face obsolescence.

A Different Business Model

In the 1990s, platforms and ecosystems were not nearly as powerful, robust, and vibrant as they are today. Consider the following graphic:

As I demonstrate in the book, it’s these connections between and among platforms and planks that allow Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to innovate so quickly and profoundly, rapidly deploy new features, and create and dominate new markets. Welcome to the Age of the Platform.

Over the course of two painful days in May of 2011, I churned out over 8,000 words of the manuscript in a hotel in Las Vegas. I was looking at homes when food poisoning felled me late one night. Those next two days were hell. Stubborn and afraid to venture outside of my room, I decided to make the situation work for me.

This book took my career to a new level. As of early 2014, sales have exceeded 12,000 units–not an easy thing to do these days. In 2012, it won an Axiom business technology book award. It was translated into Korean in 2013 and the Indonesian version is coming in 2014.

Listen to the introduction below:

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Praise

Essential reading on the state of business today–and where it is going. Ignore this book at your own peril.

–Adrian C. Ott, award-winning author, The 24-Hour Customer

As someone who pores over countless business books each year, The Age of the Platform was a joy to read. Frankly, I can’t stand the overly long, formulaic books that have only a couple of new ideas in the first two chapters and then fill the rest of the book with ponderous examples that barely advance the thinking. The Age of the Platform is different. It makes valuable points throughout. A joy to read.

–Brian Sommer ZDNet blogger and founder of TechVentive

The Age of the Platform is the kind of book to read if you want to better understand the Internet and how your company can fit into it and create a business model to profit from it.

–Anita Campbell, co-author of Visual Marketing

Remarkably insightful. A must-read for anyone interested in creating change-tolerant organizations.

–Robert Charette, President, ITABHI Corp

Nothing short of a 21st-century business survival guide.

–Mike Faith, CEO & President, Headsets.com

Exceptionally researched and written. A landmark book.

–Jane Applegate, author of 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business

Profound. Important. A groundbreaking text.

–Jay Miletsky, Founder and CEO, MyPod Studios and author of Perspectives on Marketing
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