How I Became a Cool Kid and Why It’s All About the Platform

PlatformWhat do the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter and Google have in common?  They have great platforms that have contributed greatly to their success!  What’s a platform and why does it matter?

Wikipedia defines a platform as “a place to launch software. It is an agreement that the platform provider gave to the software developer that logic code will interpret consistently as long as the platform is running on top of other platforms.”

I’m convinced that Facebook zoomed past MySpace because it launched a developer platform earlier.  The developer-friendly platform lets developers create zillions of cool apps and suck more of our time, energy and loyalty.  How many quizzes have you filled out on Facebook?

The iPhone is no different.  Apple opened up its platform, hosted a user-friendly store and nine months later, iPhone users had downloaded 1 billion applications, most of them free or under $5.  My husband says he can purchase or download apps for his Blackberry but it’s not easy and the apps are on multiple sites.  No fun at all.

Twitter’s platform lets developers capture streams of data from the millions of tweets posted every day.  Born from these streams are apps that let us visualize tweets, manage tweets, search tweets, map tweets.

Finally, the Google  app engine lets developers build and host applications on the Google infrastructure. Here at Matrix Group, we created a Google Earth app that lets us visualize where network traffic is coming from and we use the Google Maps API to plot the location of association members, George Washington portraits, and more!

There are lots of other companies that host platforms, but to me, it’s been interesting to see how a company like Apple, a company NOT in the phone business, redefined the mobile phone.  The open platform movement also feels like an extension of the open source movement; both capitalize on the skills and interest of lots of dispersed developers to create a larger, more dynamic and more interesting whole.

So how did I become a cool kid?  I had been coveting the iPhone for a long time but I refuse to switch my service to AT&T.  For Mother’s Day, my husband and son got me an iPod Touch.  Yep, I spent part of Sunday downloading apps for my sleek, new Touch.  Yippee!  I’m officially a cool kid.  Don’t forget to send me your favorite iPhone apps.

6 thoughts on “How I Became a Cool Kid and Why It’s All About the Platform

  1. Kindle app! You can buy books at the Kindle store and read them on your iPod Touch.

    For fun, I also like Bubble Wrap and Hangman. :)

  2. Hi Joanna,

    Here are three apps I love:

    1) RoadTrip – Tracks my car’s mileage and overall stats. Both free and pay versions available.

    2) LogMeIn – Pay app that logs me directly into my work PC, as if I was sitting in front of it. Not cheap, but worth it.

    3) GoSkyWatch – Find any stars or visible planets in the night sky based on your current location. A planetarium in your pocket.

    4) QuickVoice or ProRecorder – QV lets me record memos to myself, lectures, etc and then email the files. PR has similiar functionality and also lets you make ringtones from any recording!

    Enjoy and have fun with your new Touch! I’ve had my iPhone for several months, and I’m still amazed at some of the apps I’m finding.

    Jill

  3. Perhaps not as practical as some of the other favorites, but super fun…the KOI Pond, which involves nature sounds and the ability to “feed the fish, and feel them when they bite your finger…can also be quite relaxing after a long day…Also, nothing quite beats the StarWars Lightsaber app…

  4. One of my favorite iPhone apps: Ambiance.

    It’s a collection of ‘ambient’ sounds like waves, rain, wind, whitenoise, static, birds chirping, etc.

    They’re perfect for blocking out the random noise of coffee shops, airports, and other places that are hectic and busy.

    The sounds run in a seemless loop, and you can set a timer for a specific length of time (perfect for falling asleep).

    It’s not free, but it is less than $5. And the auther of the app continually listens to user feedback and adds new sounds. Come to think of it, Ambiance is a platform within a platform ;-)

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