The three factors that make platforms successful

Edited excerpt from Part 1 of 2: Should you build for the Apple Watch platform? by Bubba Murarka:

Over the years I’ve been using a framework to evaluate new platforms based on my observations from working at Facebook and Microsoft, two companies responsible for creating, managing, and at times, mismanaging great platforms. The framework involves three factors and associated questions:

Technology enablement — Can something be done that wasn’t possible or easy to do before? Adding GPS to smartphones, to give you my favorite example of technology enablement, has spawned multiple new killer applications, like Waze and Uber, that weren’t previously possible.

Distribution — How does the platform help you gain new users and engage existing users? Any entrepreneur will tell you, “they will NOT come if you build it”. Over time as distribution (nee Marketing) has primarily moved to digital channels, ownership of customers has shifted to the platform owners instead of traditional intermediaries like retailers, wholesalers, etc.

Business model — Does the platform provider have a clear business model that you can align with to sustainably share in the value created? If a platform owner isn’t thoughtful about aligning its business model with developers, it’s possible for tremendous value to be quickly created and destroyed as developers abandon platforms quickly.

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