This post was inspired by seeing the mainstream adoption of platforms and wondering where it all ends. I’m not comfortable in a world controlled by Apple, Google or Facebook and whilst the masses are happy at the moment I can promised you that will change, it always does. Remember Alta-Vista, mySpace and FriendReunited? The platform analogy is good but was missing an essential, synergistic, element. Hence reef.
2011 was the last year of the platform, when Apple, Facebook, Google and others provided one-size-fits-all solutions for the general masses. Ranging from fully open (Android) to fully closed (IOS) these platforms tried to provide the magic 80% of consumers’ needs within a neat, robust, package. It was certainly a step in the right direction but to ensure long-term survival of these companies they’re going to have to migrate from platforms to reefs.
The parallels are easy to grasp and highly visual. Traditional platforms are curated and controlled by the owners such as Apple wheras Reef Environments are mutual, two-way, life sustaining and living organisms. The reef provides a type of technological protection in the form of standard APIs, stable environments and, most importantly, a community home for developers and technologists to cluster around. The occupants of the reef sustain it’s growth by bringing micro-levels of sustainment per occupant.
The reef’s future as assured by creating this environment in much the same way as IOS applications are exploded in the last two years from 200,000 to over 650,000 apps. Without the app development the future of Apple’s IOS would have been much shakier. The problem Apple have is that they maintain their own, private (or house) reef and whilst this may seem to be a safer place now the amount of control exerted by Apple is increasing. At some point the residents will desert the platform and head somewhere else leaving behind a bleached, dead and useless environment.
The great thing about being a reef dweller (Connected are one) is that we can move around. We can also form and break alliances quickly with other lifeforms and stay agile. This approach is giving rise to a more agile version of corporate planning and making the pivot far more common and something to be embraced, not feared.
Posted by Martin Dower