PHIL SIMON

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Platforms and the Death of Synonyms

What happens when everything is a platform?
Mar | 27 | 2012

Mar | 27 | 2012
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platform450Not everything is a platform.

Let me repeat that: Not everything is a platform.

This TechCrunch article must set some type of unofficial record for the number of times that the word platform is (mis)used.

I take great pains in the book to define a true platform.

What isn’t a platform? Netflix, for one. It’s more a service. What can John Q. Developer build on top of Netflix? Nothing, last time I checked. (Internally, of course, that’s not true, as I detail in The Visual Organization.) In 1998, Google wasn’t a platform; it was a search engine. It became one by adding different planks. Ditto Amazon in 1994 and Facebook in it early days. These companies became platforms.

True platforms evolve in ways discussed in the book. Calling something a platform doesn’t make it so.

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