It's The Platform Stupid
So we had a great couple of lunchtime sessions at CodeCamp last weekend. I ws one of the presenters for both.
On Saturday I was with fellow RD Jeremy Boyd and Microsoft Architect Advisor (aka Evangelist) Mark Carrol. We were discussing the future of software development.
On Sunday it was a discussion on the business of software with Mauricio Freitas from Geekzone and Rod Drury from Aftermail.
Anyway, Tim Haines has blogged about some of what was said I herewith is my reply (Read that post first if you've not already)
I'm am positive that I didn't say anything about Vista/Live specifically... we have it Video'd so we can find out. But I probably did misinterpret Rod supporting the Live/Vista wave of stuff if I said the words Vista and/or Live in my reply to Rod then I'll buy Tim lunch!). That said. I stand by my sentiments I think they are important and I think they are important for reasons that I really reinforced on Sat. Basically success in the software business is easier to achieve (for smaller scale businesses especially) if you build out on top of someone elses platform.
If we think of a quick history of computing.... the real success of the PC and Microsoft came about because of a few things:
- IBM and Intel provided a ubiquitous and fairly open hardware platform.
- Windows provided a platform for a whole ecosystem to build up on. ISVs fed of the uiquity of Windows and Windows was successful because everybody needed it to run their chosen applications- from Word to Autocad to Matlab.
- Some of the ISVs formed Platform type ecologies themselves- think of 3DS Max, Autocad. Think of Aftermail even, it is an application based on top of an application that runs on Windows that runs on IBM Compatible hardware.
Then along came the internet. The internet is a platform. My submission is that in terms of the layers we see above, the internet is far more of an IBM hardware platform than a plugin supporting 3D application.
No one owns the internet, no one dominates the internet to the extent of anything above. But, I don't think that it's stupid to reflect on this historical context a bit when we talk about future possibilities and platform plays.
So for example if you want to play in the e-commerce sandpit then you could build directly on the internet as your platform- say making a turnkey shopping app, or, you could build on top of another persons internet platform, say building tools to support business on eBay or TradeMe.
We're never going to have a Windows equivalent on the internet. No matter how hard Microsoft, Google and Yahoo try it's just not going to happen. The primary reasons being that a) no one vendor has a critical mas of market share and; b) It's too easy to build stuff on the internet without leveraging another platform (try writing stuff to run o Windows PCs without an OS... you need a Windows or a Linux make it a realistic proposition).
They way I see it there is a fundamental rule for all this 'future' web stuff:
Your application has to be a platform. It has to be a platform for others to build on top of from a business perspective foremost. And to achieve that business platform it's likely that you'll need to have your application setup as a platform in the technological sense to some degree as well. If you can support an ecosystem ontop of your application it will flourish.
Now where does this leave us with the whole discussion around Live.com? Live is a platform play, make no doubt about it- frankly it's about time. Does anyone remember Hailstorm? If that hadn't been sunk by the usual 'big corporate paranoia' that goes on do you thin we'd been all excitied about this Web 2.0 thing now? Or would it have happened a couple of years ago?
I want to be able to build applications that leverage my personal data, I'm less concerned with privay than I am with imersing myself in a decently chunky technological soup that makes my life better. The key problems in my life today are that I have too much information to digest, too many things todo and frnakly too many opinions on too many things to be able to express them, do them and read them in the time I have available. I couldn't give a crap if it's Microsoft or Google or Yahoo or whoever that drives the next platform but someone has to step up to the plate and do it and be able to do it without wails of 'multinational this' and 'big corporate that'.
I'm baffled as to how a shareable web hosted calendar type application (as we would have had with Hailstorm) was wrong when MSFT proposed it in 2001 but is the best thing since tinned beer now that Google have jumped on top of it. I reiterate- no one is going to dominate the internet.
.NET | Mix06|Wednesday, April 26, 2006 10:23:25 PM UTC||