Thursday, October 18, 2012 is growing up to be a platform

I haven't been paying much attention since I signed up for access several weeks ago.  But when I logged back on to the network, I was pleasantly surprised that it had the application directory service called Directory.

It already had about a couple of dozen applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, PC and even Windows phone.  It's great to see that is living up to its original promise of becoming a truly open social streaming platform for all application developers.


One thing that I struggle to understand about is its paying user base.  All users are paying users, and is making its money by getting more users sign up with their platform service.  But the way users extract their value, i.e. the way they interact with platform, is often dictated by what kind of applications are available and how they are designed.  Once there is compelling enough value from available applications, the platform service value is justified and more users will sign up.  But it's a chicken-and-egg problem because applications won't be available if there is no user base growth and there won't be growing user base if there are no compelling applications.

The best analogy that I can think of is electricity.  We buy electricity (i.e. platform) from utility companies, but we don't directly consume electricity.  We plug in all kinds of appliances and devices (i.e. applications) into our wall outlet and use them to get values.  If there were no compelling appliances and devices that we needed, then there won't be enough people buying electricity.

This example seems a bit silly because we run everything on electricity.  But in its early days, electricity needed its killer app, light bulb, to grow its demand.  No one would ever expected that there will be countless products that ran on electricity when it was being popularized.

Although has gotten off the ground, there are still dangers in its viability.  In order to secure its place as public utility social network, it has to focus on bringing more compelling applications for its paying user base.

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