Ecosystems, Innovation, and Protecting Platforms

Ecosystems protect platforms; they don't inoculate them from risk.

Estimated reading: 2 min

platform450Check out this interesting Forbes’ piece on what could kill Apple, Google, and Facebook by Rob Enderle. On Apple, Enderle writes that the company’s success

…is a result of three things: A sharp focus on a very distinct consumer buyer, monetizing and assuring the entire user experience, and the best balance between engineering, design, services and marketing that currently exists in the technology market. Or, more simply, they are the most focused and balanced company in the world.

No argument here, but Enderle ignores a huge part of Apple’s success: its ecosystem. Apple has in part externalized innovation. This is significant on many levels, discussed at length in the book.

Google and Focus

On Google, Enderle claims that:

Google is already too complex; all that is keeping them from failing is they have what appears to be a monopoly on Web advertising revenue. But this makes them like a kid on a trust fund and that means they don’t really have a very prudent investment record. Currently they are funding projects that range from operating systems to self-driving cars and they can sustain this if their monopoly position on Web advertising remains intact.

I take issue with the notion that Google is too complex. If it only did, say only search and Gmail, then it would maximize risk and the adverse effects of the inevitable disruption of those proudcts. No, Google can’t be everything to everybody and Larry Page in June of 2011 immediately terminated some questionable projects in GoogleLabs upon assuming the CEO spot. However, being a one-trick pony is a death knell in the Age of the Platform.




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