Apple becomes the platform

One of my least favorite words in the world of IT marketing is "platform." Generally, it has come to mean "a collection of related thingies that we would like to brand as one thing even though there's no conventional common noun for it." (The Java platform is a particularly egregious example that comes to mind.)

Nevertheless, "platform" is the word that came to mind when I read a pair of stories about Apple products -- though I had in mind perhaps a more conventional meaning of the phrase, as in: something to use as a base to build on. First off, we have the the advent of the YouTube e-commerce platform, which will involve Google adding an option while you're watching a music video to buy the track from the iTunes Store. (You'll be able to do the same with the Amazon music store as well.) Then there's IBM Research's decision to use the iPhone as a testbed, seeding experimental mobile apps onto the App Store just to see what users make of them.

In both cases, two big companies (IBM and Google) that might in some ways be seen as competitors to Apple have essentially said, "Apple's products/services are here, we might as well work with them to our advantage." The IBM move is particularly interesting, as some of the mobile app ideas coming out of their research labs were originally intended for the wave of tablet computing devices that never materialized. It may be that the iPhone is as close to a tablet as we're going to get. But in the bigger picture, these moves show that Apple is at this point an indelible part of the tech landscape. Their stuff isn't going away; why not play nice?

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