Chapter 7 – Platforms

A platform, in the product development world, is a difficult term to define. I know this because I’m trying to do it right now. It’s very difficult to not use the word “platform” in the definition of the word platform.

I’m going to revert to one of Johnson’s examples to explain what a platform is. The creation of GPS technology is a platform technology. Many different tools and technologies and products can be built using GPS technology.

Another example from the book: YouTube. YouTube was created using three things: the web, javascript, and Adobe Flash. In a very real sense, those three things were platforms which allowed a new idea to be constructed.

So, having gotten a little steam going here, I’ll make another attempt at a definition: platforms are “existing technical ecosystems” which foster or enable new ideas.

To use Johnson’s words, “The platform builders and ecosystem engineers do not just open a door in the adjacent possible. They build an entire new floor.”

I’m going to cover this entire chapter on Platforms in one additional post. Buckle up.