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What is a Software Platform?

Dave Aiello wrote, "In the latest Joel on Software article, Joel Spolsky writes about software platforms. Software platforms are generally products that are used by Independent Software Vendors to product value-added products and services. Many of the software platforms have freely distributed runtime versions that allow users who have not purchased the deluxe version to enjoy some of the benefits of it, and more importantly, to interact with documents created by users of the full version. Examples include Adobe Acrobat and its Reader, and Java and the Java runtime." Spolsky says:

If you want a platform to be successful, you need massive adoption, and that means you need developers to develop for it. The best way to kill a platform is to make it hard for developers to build on it. Most of the time, this happens because platform companies either don't know that they have a platform (they think it's an application) or they get greedy (they want all the revenue for themselves.)

"Joel doesn't really get into this in his article, but, the whole idea of web services is to make data available from companies via their websites into software platforms."

"Some questions I have been mulling over have to do with whether businesses that have released web service interfaces to their websites are really going to allow third parties to treat these interfaces as platforms for moneymaking ventures. For instance, will I be able to do something with Google's web service interface that they didn't envision when they published the interface? Will I be allowed to make money from using their web services without being cannibalized by them down the road?"

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