Compatibility of Software Platforms



In the software industry, as well as in numerous other IT industries, products are often offered as systems consisting of complementary components (Gawer and Henderson 2007). In this context, specific components take on the role of software platforms, and around these platforms so-called ecosystems evolve. Evans et al. (2006) describe a software platform as “a software program that makes services available to other software programs through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)”.2 Jansen et al. (2009) define such an ecosystem around a platform as “a set of actors functioning as a unit and interacting with a shared market for software and services, together with the relationships among them. These relationships are frequently underpinned by a common technological platform or market and operate through the exchange of information, resources, and artifacts.” The idea of offering software systems, which are based on platforms, in combination with complementary products from an “ecosystem” is applied throughout the software industry. This is not a new phenomenon: Around the first operating systems, “ecosystems” of applications had already evolved. Current examples for developing ecosystems are both Apple, with the AppStore, and Google, with the Android Marketplace. A similar constellation can be found in the area of service-oriented architectures (SOA): SOA services from different vendors can be integrated on the basis of SOA platforms. Moreover, the evolvement of ecosystems is observable in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market (Cusumano 2010a; Cusumano 2010b).


Network Effect Software Platform Graph Type Service Layer Complementary Product 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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