Platforms and Ecosystems

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The word “platform” has become quite popular in the Yahoo! vocabulary in recent months.

That’s a good thing because it means more and more people are staring to think about our products and services and more than just, well, products and services for end users (I hate the term “consumers” too).

It wasn’t that long ago that Bill Gates said:

Yahoo doesn’t think of themselves as a platform company. I don’t think you will ever have the Yahoo PDC.

That’s slightly amusing, because we’re certainly headed that way. And Microsoft seems to be trying (and trying and trying) to, with MSN, become more and more of a content/portal/search company. Or some may say “more like Yahoo.”

Anyway, there’s a lot of confusion about platforms: what is and is not a platform and stuff like that. We also talk about ecosystems and how they related to platforms.

Leave to ex-Yahoo Gary Flake to help connect the dots, now that he’s at Microsoft:

People from Redmond often speak of a “platform” while in the valley they speak of an “ecosystem”. Here’s the surprise: both groups are talking about the same thing. To MS, Windows is a platform because it fosters a virtuous cycle in two parts: developers come to the platform because it has the most users; users come to the platform because it has the most software.
Well said.

I hope Bill Gates will accept an invitation to keynote the first Yahoo Developer’s Conference, should we decide to host one. :-)

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.

Platforms and Ecosystems
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