Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Platform Discussion

Over the last few days in class we have been discussing the idea of what a platform is. From the very basic definition of platform to the impact of companies or organizations that are successful in pulling off a platform play.

On Wikipedia, under platform, they list over twenty kinds, from a diving platform to a political parties platform. The one that has the greatest relevance to the Internet and the World Wide Web is provided this definition.

Platform technology is a term for technology that enables the creation of products and processes that support present or future development. It establishes the long-term capabilities of research & development institutes.

Whether a computer operating system provides a platform for applications, or TCP/IP stacks provide a platform for Internet technologies to develop, the impact and power behind a platform is tremendous.

Just ask Google engineer Steve Yegge, who in a post that was meant to be between peers ended up going public. He deleted it afterwards, but it was too late. Elvis had left the building.

PC Magazine has an article on the topic here and it is worth the read.

Here is just a taste of what he wrote in his post as reported by PC Magazine:

"Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right," he wrote. Yegge criticized the company's hiring procedures, operations, charity giving, accommodations, compensation, and what he perceived to be lack of perks. Founder Jeff Bezos, he said, was "an infamous micro-manager" on the level of Steve Jobs, who made "ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies." (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.)

"But there's one thing they do really, really well that pretty much makes up for ALL of their political, philosophical and technical screw-ups," Yegge wrote. About a decade ago, Bezos realized that "that Amazon needs to be a platform."

"A product is useless without a platform, or more precisely and accurately, a platform-less product will always be replaced by an equivalent platform-ized product," Yegge wrote.

Where it hurts is that Yegge points the finger at Google+ as doing it all wrong, claiming that "is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership."

The question is, is this a Jerry McGuire moment for Steve Yegge, where he is applauded internally but ultimately jettisoned? Or will the public/private posting error (if it really was in error) be forgiven in favor or harnessing the passion that he shows in his post toward creating a successful platform out of Google+

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