Being Someone Else's Bitch, Being Your Own Bitch… Or Making Others Your Bitch
from the platforms dept
We recently had a story about how the makers of iFlow Reader, an ebook reader for Apple devices, was forced to close up shop, after Apple changed the way things worked with in-app content purchases, meaning that it was impossible for iFlow to make money on Apple’s platform. At the time, we pointed out how dangerous it is to rely on a single platform provider for any business, and we’re still amazed that any company does that. And yet, we’ve seen similar things for years. Numerous companies rely entirely on one big company for pretty much everything about their business — from Google to Facebook to Microsoft to Twitter to Apple, there are stories of all sorts of companies who pretty much could be wiped out in a single move if the larger companies changed certain terms.
I’m constantly amazed at how many companies fail to recognize this, and build business models that rely entirely on a third party. This goes beyond just software companies, as well. We see it with content creators who rely on a single provider/partner as well, rather than recognize that success comes from building a sustainable model that doesn’t rely on a single provider.
A few weeks ago, in response to some questions about Twitter’s recent changes, which appeared to screw with developers who relied on Twitter as a platform, Twitter investor Fred Wilson told a conference audience: “Don’t be a Google bitch, don’t be a Facebook bitch, and don’t be a Twitter bitch. Be your own bitch.” Add to that a statement from a day or so later from Google’s Eric Schmidt, in which he noted that if you want to be rich, you should build your own platform on which others build, rather than relying on others, and there’s a bit of an important pattern to recognize here. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build on others’ platforms — everyone builds off of someone’s platform, but the question is: who are you reliant on going forward?