Alex posted asking “Why Platforms Are Letting Us Down – And What They Should Do About It“. The thrust of his post was the everyone wants to be a platform in the good times, but in the bad times people draw back from platform plays citing concerns over a lack of monetisation paths.
While I concur with Alex’s view that monetisation is king – this isn’t a platform specific failing. We only need to look to the pantheon of consumer Web 3.0 services -YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Seesmic etc that similarly are struggling to find ways to build monetisation in. Alex used the examples of Flock, Facebook, Google‘s OpenSocial and the iPhone app store in his post. Claiming that only one of the four examples have viability via a baked in monetisation strategy (The Apple offering).
Of course he’s right within the narrow context of the post – but I can’t help but think that what Alex is really talking about is not platform specific but rather a general issue with web business at this time.
Clearly there are a number of other platforms that are viable – salesforce’s app-exchange and the Zoho marketplace among them, and these are viable for the very reasons stated above – that right from the outset there has been a concerted effort to build a refined monetisation strategy.
Alex suggests a few questions that prospective platform vendors should ask themselves before launching into a platform play;
- Why are we building a platform?
- How will we monetize this platform?
- Will the platform make us money, and how much will it cost?
- How will applications be able to monetize the platform?
- Can we support the platform for years to come?
All good advice – but similarly his points can be utilized in a general web business context. Namely;
- Why are we building web business?
- How will we monetize this service?
- Will the service make us money, and how much will it cost?
- How will partners be able to monetize the add ons to the service?
- Can we support the service for years to come?
Which in the context of a number of web startups today looks kind of worrying.
So this current downturn is actually great for platforms – once we eventually come out the other side of it we’ll see some rich, rewarding and above all viable platforms in the ecosystem – after all, The Browser is The Platform!