Edited by Annabelle Gawer
Chapter 3: Platform Dynamics and Strategies: From Products to Services
Annabelle Gawer INTRODUCTION The emergence of industry platforms is a novel phenomenon impacting most industries today, from products to services. Industry platforms are building blocks (they can be products, technologies or services) that act as a foundation upon which an array of firms (sometimes called a business ecosystem) can develop complementary products, technologies or services. Platforms exist in a variety of industries, and they certainly exist in all high-tech industries. Google, Microsoft Windows, cellphone operating systems, fuel-cell automotive engines, but also some genomic technologies are all platforms. But while platforms are becoming more and more pervasive, and promising research has been under way (Bresnahan and Greenstein, 1999; Gawer and Cusumano, 2002 and 2008; West, 2003; Rochet and Tirole, 2003 and 2006; Iansiti and Levien, 2004; Eisenmann et al., 2006; Evans et al., 2006; Gawer and Henderson, 2007), important questions remain unanswered. In particular, we don’t yet understand the conditions under which industry platforms come to exist, and then to develop. We also don’t know much about how firms’ capabilities should impact their platform strategies. The chapter aims to answer two research questions: (1) under which conditions can we expect industrial platform dynamics to emerge and unfold? And (2) in the context of platform industry dynamics, what kind of platform strategies should firms devise, depending on whether they are incumbents or new entrants? To answer to the first question, I set out to present a new typology of platforms, which identifies the distinct contexts in which different types of platforms appear...
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