Home » Uncategorized

Platforms Beat Applications

Submitted by on June 12, 2009 – 6:06 pmOne Comment

platformsbeatappsPlatforms beat applications.  OK –    So what is a platform?  The nomenclature of platforms and applications arise from technology but I will use a low tech retail metaphor.   An application in this analogy is The Foot Locker (let’s just say) while the platform is the Mall.   The mall is a platform in that it provides many of the conditions necessary for The Foot Locker to exist;  physical infrastructure, foot traffic (no pun originally intended) etc.   This allows The Foot Locker to focus its attention on what it does best – market and sell shoes.  They don’t need to allocate finances towards owning the building and all the hazards that entails.    If Foot Locker is unsuccessful, there are other small business owners that might be eager to make use of the space in the mall.   The mall is a platform that allows myriad small/large businesses to flourish.

iphoneThe best exemplar of the platform recently is the iPhone.   The iPhone allows developers to build applications that reside on the iPhone (the mall if you will).  These applications can take full advantage of the iPhone’s physical infrastructure (sensors like the accelerometer for games, microphone, GPS chipset etc.) and reach (37 million iPhones to date).  This is a compelling proposition.   There have been 35,000 applications developed – and 1 billion application downloads.   iPhone is now opening up its hardware to allow people to develop physical devices… (I imagine my iPhone as a netbook in the near future).

Platforms can be a powerful concept for re-imagining your business and is part of what I talk about when I say, Open beats Closed.   There is more talent outside your walls than within — find a way to tap into that creative potential.  Platforms are also a way of reimagining  our government….

This is the heart of Ed Felten’s recent post, Government Data and the Invisible Hand, on how to make government more transparent.  The genius stroke is right here at the beginning,

If the next Presidential administration really wants to embrace the potential of Internet-enabled government transparency, it should follow a counter-intuitive but ultimately compelling strategy: reduce the federal role in presenting important government information to citizens. Today, government bodies consider their own websites to be a higher priority than technical infrastructures that open up their data for others to use. We argue that this understanding is a mistake. It would be preferable for government to understand providing reusable data, rather than providing websites, as the core of its online publishing responsibility.

Beautiful… Felten is telling Government to build a platform that leverages citizen engagement.   It is an interesting notion to think about how new technological advancements (namely, the Internet) will reconfigure our very notion of democracy.    My Society and Frontseat (see my interview with founder Mike Mathieu here) already take available data for citizens to remix.  Imagine how powerful this can be if government saw itself as a platform rather than owning the whole mall.

One Comment »

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.