Edited by Annabelle Gawer
Fernando F. Suarez and Michael A. Cusumano INTRODUCTION Numerous factors affect the emergence of a successful platform among competing alternatives. Some of these influences can be very idiosyncratic or platform-specific, although most studies agree on the critical role of the following four factors: (a) adequate pricing strategies to generate momentum behind a platform – e.g. subsidizing one ‘side’ of the platform as console makers do in the videogames industry (Eisenmann, 2005); (b) having a large set of complementary products that increase the value of a particular platform – for example, a wider array of games for a given console (Gawer and Cusumano, 2002); (c) the strength of ‘network effects’ that often tilt the balance in favor of platforms that can build their installed base faster than competitors – e.g. the reason why platforms such as VHS as well as MS-DOS and then Windows and Office have been so successful (Katz and Shapiro, 1988); and (d) technological or design advantages – i.e. the possibility that one platform may achieve a high level of differentiation over competitors, for instance due to technological superiority (Suarez and Utterback, 1995). Other factors sometimes mentioned in explaining platform outcomes include the role of market momentum and ‘mind share’ (e.g. the ‘buzz’ that Apple or Google generates before the launch of new products) and government regulation (Gawer and Cusumano, 2008). However, these factors seem to be a common denominator in most of the platform studies with which we are familiar. Most of the research on how platform leaders emerge, however, has...
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