Designing 'things' to become platforms is a very risky occupation. It is better to design tools that help people 'get things done'. If in the process of helping the end-user, the end-user themselves point out by their emergent behaviour that we can build upon our tool and it becomes a platform that is fantastic... both for us and the end-user. Did Steve Jobs work out how the iPod would impact the media ecosystem or did he try to provide tools that I'm sure he knew if he got it right things would never be the same again, but he would not have a plan set in concrete (a platform?) but rather an iterative view of how it would all unfold.
It is the linking of business strategy to design activity that has ensured that Apple "Lead Innovation and manage design" in a way that ensures strong sustainable growth for all the stakeholders in the Apple vision. Unlike Microsoft Business and Design seem to have become great friends rather than remain strangers.... Tool users like to extend the possibilities for their tools by talking about their experiences with other tool users. In the Middle Ages this gave rise to Guilds; in the enlightenment Coffee Houses (Lloyd's, for example) were where information exchange and knowledge making happened... something similar is happening with Apple-users... Business Week talks of the Mac in a grey flannel suit as the "Apple-core" put pressure on their IT providers. BW reports:
"Soon after Michele Goins became chief information officer at Juniper Networks (JNPR) in February, she decided to respond to the growing chorus of Mac lovers among the networking company's 6,100 employees. For years, many had used Apple's (AAPL) computers at home and clamoured for them in the office as well
So she launched a test, letting 600 Juniper staffers use Macs instead of the standard-issue PCs that run Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows operating system. As long as the extra support costs aren't too high, she plans to open the floodgates. "If we opened it up today, I think 25% of our employees would choose Macs," she says.
Funny thing is, she has never received a single sales call from Apple. While thousands of other companies scratch and claw for the tiniest sliver of the corporate computing market, Apple treats this vast market with utter indifference. After a series of failed offensives by the company in the 1980s and 1990s, Chief Executive Steve Jobs decided to focus squarely on consumers and education customers when he returned to Apple in 1997. As a result, the company doesn't have ranks of corporate salespeople or armies of repairmen waiting to respond every time a hard drive fails. Nothing that could divert his minions from staying focused on Apple's core calling: creating the next cool thing for the world's consumers."
So Mac-users/fans have become a platform for the growth of Apple corporate sales... try planning and executing that as a strategy! Surreal isn't it?
Picture uploaded by :mrMark:. Used with thanks under CC.