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The Promise and Perils of Open Platforms

July 23, 2008


It is an interesting time to consider the opportunities and challenges surrounding the emergence of new “open” platforms.

A couple weeks ago Apple launced its app platform for the iPhone.  From what I can tell, in addition to all the fanfare there have been some pretty darn impressive usage figures.

And today is f8, reminding us that it has been 1 year since Facebook launched its open app platform.  It certainly has been an interesting time.  On the one hand, the explosion of apps and usage on the Facebook platform has been something to behold, virtually giving rise to an ecosystem overnight.  Certainly this was an important watershed in the emergence of the social media sector.  On the other hand, events of the last few weeks have certainly reinforced that the success engendered by “openness” tends to lead platform owners to impose restrictions.

So, while today there is a fair bit of euphoria amongst iPhone app developers, entrepreneurs, and investors, it’s not hard to imagine the ecosystem encountering struggles along the way as Apple tries to optimize the balance between platform openness and its own profits.

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