However now there’s a book out which explains the platform concept rather well.
Called Platform Revolution, the book points up the difference between early Apple products – closed, proprietary and unconnectable with other products – which were examples of a “pipelined” business and Microsoft’s model of the PC industry in which everyone could, theoretically, join and which is called a “platform” business.
I say “theoretically” because, although everyone could join in the PC industry, MS and Intel took 90% of the profit.
But let not that spoil the concept of pipeline vs platform.
In later years, say the book’s authors, Apple realised that platform was the better option and launched iTunes and the App Store to convert its hardware products into platforms.
Even so this Apple platform, which ostensibly allows others into Apple’s playpen, does not stop Apple taking 92% of the profits of the handset industry.
So being a platform business doesn’t exclude being a quasi-monopoly.
But it’s a networked quasi-monopoly in which hundreds or thousands of serf suppliers work to add value to the platform.
In other words it’s a wheeze to get loads of people to work to boost your business in return for very little for themselves.
No wonder everyone wants a platform