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The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business

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Buoyed by the success of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, thousands of companies of all sizes are creating vibrant ecosystems and, in the process, reaping big rewards. In the tradition of The Long Tail, The Age of the Platform demonstrates how the world of business today is vastly different from that of even 10 years ago.


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Buoyed by the success of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, thousands of companies of all sizes are creating vibrant ecosystems and, in the process, reaping big rewards. In the tradition of The Long Tail, The Age of the Platform demonstrates how the world of business today is vastly different from that of even 10 years ago.

30 review for The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anita Campbell

    Phil Simon’s newest book, The Age of the Platform, is the kind of book to read if you want to better understand the Internet and how your company can fit into it and create a business model to profit from it. The subtitle “How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business” gives further clues of what this book is about. Simon refers to these four companies as the “Gang of Four.” It’s a term first used by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, to describe four tech companies tha Phil Simon’s newest book, The Age of the Platform, is the kind of book to read if you want to better understand the Internet and how your company can fit into it and create a business model to profit from it. The subtitle “How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business” gives further clues of what this book is about. Simon refers to these four companies as the “Gang of Four.” It’s a term first used by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, to describe four tech companies that are growing at “unprecedented rates.” What is a Platform? The premise of the book is that these four companies have created not just companies, not just technology. They’ve created platforms — and platforms are something that YOU can leverage with a small business. Or you can create your own smaller platform. What’s a platform? It’s a valuable and powerful technology ecosystem. It scales and grows quickly. It serves customers, yes. But it also serves vendors and partners, who use it for their own business purposes. A platform embraces third-party collaboration. The platform, he says, is “becoming one of the most important business models of the new millennium” and “new companies are hitching their wagons on the platform.” Platforms have benefits and they have their downsides. Benefits for you include a place to sell and distribute your content (Amazon or Apple’s iTunes) or promote your business (Google or Facebook). To understand the benefits of a platform, you have to understand consumer behavior. Simon says that consumers “want one-stop shopping, even at the expense of missing out on ‘the best’ app or service. They like platforms; they don’t want to manage 100 different devices, sites, and services.” Of course, the downsides include the fact that a platform may end up becoming your competitor. Or it may just go out of fashion (think MySpace), leaving you to have to re-establish a foothold on another platform. Therefore, you must be fluid and nimble, and able to change as circumstances change. A Lot to Like About This Book If you love to read about Google and Amazon — or are amazed at the growth of Facebook or how Apple can keep churning out new products that continue to delight — then you will love this book for that reason alone. These are history-making companies. We are seeing in real time how they change consumers’ lives. And, as the book points out, we are seeing how they are changing the Internet since roughly 2005. I know I can hardly resist reading a good article about these companies and how they are changing the Web. I’m fascinated. But reading an article here and there gives you a fragmented view. Reading a book gives you a broader view of the landscape, and puts more in context. You capture more of the nuances. You get a better understanding when you read a book. Another thing to like about this book is the way it gets you thinking about how to use the platforms of the Gang of Four (and other smaller platforms) to benefit your own business. It’s a book that raises more questions to think about, than perhaps it answers. That’s actually a good thing. After all, to build our businesses using the Internet we have to first open our minds and understand enough to know the possibilities. Who Should Read This Book This is a book for anyone with a business that is using the Internet to generate revenues — or wants to. If you produce content and want to promote or sell it online, read this book. If you create apps and need to get those apps to the populace, read this book. If you have developed technology or a product and need to market it, read this book. If you are struggling with your online business model, or finding that your business model has to evolve due to circumstances outside your control, read this book. It is NOT a how-to book in the true sense of the term. You will not be presented with chapter after chapter of detailed steps to take to create your own platform or learn to use the platforms of other companies. Yes, there is a chapter of about 30 pages called “The How: Tips for Building a Platform.” But you will have to do the thinking and heavy lifting to build your platform and learn to leverage others. Still, not every book needs to be a how-to. It’s an important book in the sense of understanding the big picture and how your business can fit in. We liked it so much that our Book Editors added it to our list of Top Technology Books. If you want to learn more you can read the foreword and listen to the Introduction in audio, on the book’s website. I recommend you read The Age of The Platform to start sparking ideas for where to take your business in the future. This review is adapted from the full review originally published on my site, Small Business Trends: http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/11/age...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Terri Griffith

    I’m feeling guilty. I like Phil Simon’s new book, The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business, because I agree with almost everything he says. The guilt comes from feeling like I should be looking for ideas that challenge my own, but with Phil Simon I think I’ve found an futurist/analyst who uses many of the same lenses I do. He shows how “each piece interacts with other parts of its ecosystem and the world at large" (Introduction). I feel less guilty I’m feeling guilty. I like Phil Simon’s new book, The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business, because I agree with almost everything he says. The guilt comes from feeling like I should be looking for ideas that challenge my own, but with Phil Simon I think I’ve found an futurist/analyst who uses many of the same lenses I do. He shows how “each piece interacts with other parts of its ecosystem and the world at large" (Introduction). I feel less guilty for liking how the book shows the deep layers of platforms and how the four focal iconic organizations are building flexible business models. These ideas are likely to challenge all of us to critically think about new organizational forms. Simon defines a platform as (p. 22): ..an extremely valuable and powerful ecosystem that quickly and easily scales, morphs, and incorporates new features (called planks in this book), users, customers, vendors, and partners....The most vibrant platforms embrace third-party collaboration. The companies behind these platforms seek to foster symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationships with users, customers, vendors, developers, and the community at large. This is an extension of traditional platform thinking which he notes includes: physical and infrastructure platforms; technology platforms like landlines, cellphones and the Internet; and media platforms that spread information. In my world of technology and innovation management we’d also include product platforms like the chassis that serves for multiple models of a car, the particular platform for a family of computer chips, and the material that Swiffer uses in its broad set of cleaning tools. Simon’s view is an extension that I’ll be adding to the platform discussions in my classes. The take away I hope my students will appreciate is that as platforms are built of “planks”: Platforms comprise individual components, features, products, and services—collectively referred to in this book as planks. Put simply, without planks, there are no platforms (p. 24). Planks create degrees of freedom that allow organizations to evolve in more logical ways than if they were monolithic (p. 133). The writing is accessible. Simon manages to keep the descriptions of things like the Facebook "Like" button basic enough for non-users while also giving enough unique perspectives for experts to gain value as well. Connections to pop-culture, like the game of Risk, make for an engaging read about companies we all watch and business strategies we all should be considering. If you’re in a rush and feel you understand how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are building and leveraging their platforms, read Part I and then move to Part III. You’ll miss some great insights, but you’ll jump to models you can consider for your own business.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    This book is a parade example of the next big literary trend, Casual Reading. You saw it here first. POP QUIZ: “Casual Reading” is: a) laying around, smelly and unshaven, on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a good hardcover; b) sneaking a read on your mobile device, sitting in your fabric-walled cubical on Friday afternoon in pink Oxford shirt, chinos, and a open collar; c) an important new and highly trademarked-by-me concept which will support me in my rapidly-approaching old age, much as Elvis Coste This book is a parade example of the next big literary trend, Casual Reading. You saw it here first. POP QUIZ: “Casual Reading” is: a) laying around, smelly and unshaven, on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a good hardcover; b) sneaking a read on your mobile device, sitting in your fabric-walled cubical on Friday afternoon in pink Oxford shirt, chinos, and a open collar; c) an important new and highly trademarked-by-me concept which will support me in my rapidly-approaching old age, much as Elvis Costello gets a nickel every time they play “Pump It Up” at a hockey game. Just as Casual Gaming targets those with five free minutes while waiting for the bus or dropping off the dry cleaning, so does the Casual Read hang around undemandingly on your smartphone, waiting for you to long for a distraction from your distractions. OK, so the above is a little glib, but I am serious that this is a book that you can keep on your smartphone's ebook app and consume as time allows without serious loss of comprehension. There's a lot of “In the last chapter we saw...” and “In this chapter we will learn about...” to help you remember where you were, and where you were headed. Similarly, important paragraphs are often set off in bold type, so you know that they are especially important. I got the impression that the book was written at a simple reading level, as is appropriate for a text that will largely be experienced while waiting for your half-decaf skinny soy latté to evidence itself. In a highly uncharacteristic moment, I decided to check if my impression could be corroborated independently. I found a portion of this book on the web. Through the miracle of cut-and-paste, an online calculator of reading ease informed me that this portion was written at a ninth-grade reading level, according to the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease test. This is roughly at the same reading level of Reader's Digest. (Source: Wikipedia entry on Flesch-Kincaid, available here.) Please don't let me be misunderstood: I am NOT attempting to say “This book is written for illiterates”. I am saying that the book has been written simply and clearly. It has many short simple declarative sentences. This is necessary if you are going to try to read it with comprehension on a tiny screen, largely while hanging onto a subway strap for dear life. Anyone who has tried writing in this manner knows that it is much more difficult to do than it is to produce, for example, the gaseous verbiage that often winds up in academic journals. The inexplicable prestige and proliferation of academic journals with this type of writing is proof, as if any were necessary, that Satan is alive and walks this Earth. I seem to have wandered away from my point. The usefulness of the book's ideas are more difficult for me to comment on, since I am not an enthusiastic early adopter nor an entrepreneurial spirit. But, like the little old ladies of yore who warned the young generation off that demon rock-n-roll, I now shake my rolled-up umbrella at you and say: “Put down that damn Angry Birds already and get yourself a Casual Read on that smartphone.” I know it's a waste of time to tell you to give up your smartphone entirely: just because I'm a crank doesn't mean I'm completely devoid of sense.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pep Bonet

    This is an interesting book to understand modern trends in business. Simon's views are that we live in the Age of the Platform. Exit the old businesses which based their activity on closed environments and not granting access to competitors to any of their assets. New successful companies play the platform, play the interconnection with other platforms and profit from this. The successful business is based on a successful platform with hundreds of 'planks' and links with all other platforms. Aut This is an interesting book to understand modern trends in business. Simon's views are that we live in the Age of the Platform. Exit the old businesses which based their activity on closed environments and not granting access to competitors to any of their assets. New successful companies play the platform, play the interconnection with other platforms and profit from this. The successful business is based on a successful platform with hundreds of 'planks' and links with all other platforms. Author Simon takes as an example repeated all along the book the Gang of Four, the four more successful platforms: Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. He analyses the reasons for their rise and, up to now, unstoppable growth. He also analyses the failures of some other platforms like Microsoft, MySpace, etc. and discusses the promising ones out there, the Twitters, Groupons, Linkedins of today. Although I always have a bit of an issue with the way this kind of books are written because they seem not to follow a clear path, always coming back to the same concepts, the book is clear, illustrative and enlightening. It's bucks well spent. I must thank the Gartner Group analyst who recommended it to me. I admit to having let two years pass before buying, which is a bit of a mistake, since this kind of books are better read while still fresh. But, nevertheless, it remais valid.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike Wheeler

    Fantastic read. He nails it on why these companies have been so successful and why previous competitors have failed. To me it is the innovation but also the ability to change with the environment and standards that have came into play. Over the last 15 years I still say the ever decreasing costs of memory and the ability to continue to increase the amount we can store has been the most drastic innovation since the industrial revolution. The speed at which we can process today is phenomenal and c Fantastic read. He nails it on why these companies have been so successful and why previous competitors have failed. To me it is the innovation but also the ability to change with the environment and standards that have came into play. Over the last 15 years I still say the ever decreasing costs of memory and the ability to continue to increase the amount we can store has been the most drastic innovation since the industrial revolution. The speed at which we can process today is phenomenal and continues to improve. It is so difficult to think where we will be in 5 years when we have no idea where we will be in 6 months.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helder

    This is the first book I've read from this author. This book, as the title says, talks about platforms, giving some close attention to the so called "Gang of Four". It's not an how-to book, it's more a book about the importance of having a strong, meaningful and open platform. A technological platform is something a business must have nowadays, a platform that allows the business to grow, thrive and scale. If you are interested in the subject, if you have an online business or if you simply want t This is the first book I've read from this author. This book, as the title says, talks about platforms, giving some close attention to the so called "Gang of Four". It's not an how-to book, it's more a book about the importance of having a strong, meaningful and open platform. A technological platform is something a business must have nowadays, a platform that allows the business to grow, thrive and scale. If you are interested in the subject, if you have an online business or if you simply want to know more about how the Gang of Four leverages their platforms than this book is for you. I strongly recommend it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    camcollins

    I am in the tech industry, so for me there weren't many new concepts here. However, I gave the book to a partner in one of my businesses that is new to "tech". He is getting a lot out of it. Simon's concept of not focusing like a laser on a niche runs counter to much of the conversation in the start-up interwebs, but I could relate to what he was saying. Focus too much and you may miss tangential opportunities - stretching a bit - but what he called "planks". I have added "planks" to my vocab, s I am in the tech industry, so for me there weren't many new concepts here. However, I gave the book to a partner in one of my businesses that is new to "tech". He is getting a lot out of it. Simon's concept of not focusing like a laser on a niche runs counter to much of the conversation in the start-up interwebs, but I could relate to what he was saying. Focus too much and you may miss tangential opportunities - stretching a bit - but what he called "planks". I have added "planks" to my vocab, so Mr. Simon - thank you for that!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter O'Kelly

    I probably would have rated the book 4 stars if I had read it closer to its 2011 publication date, and wish I had run across it when it was first published. Reading it in early 2014, the book's overall thesis and platform models are still useful, but a lot of the Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google details were a bit stale. Still recommended reading for anyone interested in recent information technology and Internet market dynamics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lori Grant

    A must-read book for knowledge workers, managers, directors, C-levels, and entrepreneurs on building and managing technology. Simon not only explains how the internet created a new frontier for platforms, he describes how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google dominated books, music, social networking, and search. More importantly, Simon shares how entrepreneurs can find the white spaces by building their own platforms based on best practices by the Gang of Four.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kanapo

    ในโลกดิจิตอลขางหนา ความยิงใหญจะไมสามารถสรางขึนมาดวยรูปแบบเดิมๆ ทีวา winner get all จะหมดไป Age of platform ทำใหเราเหนวาการเติบใหญของ Tech-company ทียิงใหญนันเกียวของกับการทีทำใหตัวเองเปน platform และเปิดโอกาสใหมีคนมารวมใชประโยชนสรางสรรคมากมาย ยิงมี partner มาก platform เรากจะยิงใหญมากกวาเดิม ^_^ ในโลกดิจิตอลข้างหน้า ความยิ่งใหญ่จะไม่สามารถสร้างขึ้นมาด้วยรูปแบบเดิมๆ ที่ว่า winner get all จะหมดไป Age of platform ทำให้เราเห็นว่าการเติบใหญ่ของ Tech-company ที่ยิ่งใหญ่นั้นเกี่ยวข้องกับการที่ทำให้ตัวเองเป็น platform และเปิดโอกาสให้มีคนมาร่วมใช้ประโยชน์สร้างสรรค์มากมาย ยิ่งมี partner มาก platform เราก็จะยิ่งใหญ่มากกว่าเดิม ^_^

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vishal Biyani

    Although might seem shallow at times, this book does a good job of starting to think Platform way in the new age. Highly recommended for developers, freelancers and leaders alike in today's age! Easily readable - but do take your own time to internalize the learning.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Navkendar

    A must read for anyone interested in how Google, Apple and Internet are ruling and changing our worlds....highly recommended

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rao Kasibhotla

    Good read. I have a long time interest in the topic, so not a lot of new insight for me, but seeing all pieces of platform thinking in one place is great.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Antonio

    The Age of the Platform is not book about platforms, it is about Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. It misses the mark defining a platform as having “Iconic and Visionary Leaders”(p.145) and “Platforms are Inherently Political”(p.150). Neither of these traits, and many more stated in the book, are the basis of platforms themselves. Platforms are not defined as “not monopolies--natural or otherwise”(p.33). Stating qualities that these four companies have does not define a platform. A rough yet m The Age of the Platform is not book about platforms, it is about Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. It misses the mark defining a platform as having “Iconic and Visionary Leaders”(p.145) and “Platforms are Inherently Political”(p.150). Neither of these traits, and many more stated in the book, are the basis of platforms themselves. Platforms are not defined as “not monopolies--natural or otherwise”(p.33). Stating qualities that these four companies have does not define a platform. A rough yet more accurate definition of a platform (assuming we’re talking about the computery-kind) would be a software environment that allows the customer to write software in it that can be used by others. The cloud is the latest platform trend which has seen Amazon at the forefront. As this is concerned Microsoft’s Azure cloud services are a more mature and versatile platform than Apple’s iCloud, yet the book as relegated Microsoft the the dusty past alongside IBM and Ma Bell. I can only infer that the recommendations and conclusions this book makes are from a perspective so far removed from implementation and based solely on reading about the big four that they are probably no better than cargo-cult. The book being an amalgam of popular tech writings is evidenced at the end with undigested references to the Semantic Web 3.0 and Kurzweil. The problem I have with this book may be my own misunderstanding. In the chapter entitled “The Dilbert Debacle”(p.174) the book states, “Even individuals with popular platforms can easily invite great scrutiny, especially when they are:...” If I had started this book with the understanding that its definition of ‘platform’ is stretched so thin as to encompass a site of a popular cartoonist in addition to the big four, then I may have realized that there was no possible way that the book could have had anything meaningful to say.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adam Wiggins

    "Platform" is a very unique type of business – overwhelmingly powerful when successful (Microsoft and Apple are both examples), but very few people get platform, or understand why it differs from an app. This book is the only one on the subject, so I tried to struggle through it. Unfortunately, it sucks. Go read Joel Spolsky's (dated, but still applicable) blog post on the subject instead. (Made it to page 140 of 247.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    David E.

    Great summary of what is happening in the world of ecommerce. If you don't have an API you may be out of luck. More to the point, learn how Amazon, Apple and eBay are creating new markets and new features every day, and why it's only just beginning. There are no great technical "how-to's" or coding samples, but a nice overview of the brave new world of platforms and why it matters.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Santosh Bhat

    The author is more successful in describing how the Big 4 companies, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook have created their platforms than prescribe a clear-cut roadmap of how individuals/small businesses can create their own platforms.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zekai Huang

    It's a nice concept to talk about the gang of four -- amazon, apple, facebook, google. But it failed to discuss what truly made it a platform than simply talking about its product and history. The part talking about platform's characteristics and how to build platform has nothing profound.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Graham Mumm

    Decent overview of the largest modern business platforms

  20. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    101 level, probably would've given more stars if I read it closer to publication date.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phil Simon

    Link to video trailer can be found here.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Franco

    Excelent

  23. 4 out of 5

    Clay

  24. 4 out of 5

    Derek

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gustavo Munoz

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mr J A Samperi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arto

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shorttermcredits

  29. 4 out of 5

    Reza Heydari

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hyung Rok

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