The purchase of Instagram by Facebook is no less than an attempt to redefine the landscape of our industry: today, you are either an app, a service or a platform.
For instance, RIM will become an "app". No disrespect, it can be a formidable app, opening the doors to the Enterprise to an Apple or a Google, but the window of opportunity for RIM to be a platform is gone. In this new world, search is an app which sets the search context with a high degree of precision (yelp, UrbanSpoon...), ads is a service and the Worn out WWW amounts to the Yellow Pages (paper HTML edition).
... and maybe (always smiling) Amazon. The problem with Amazon is that they'll have to choose between being a commerce platform (and compete with WalMart) or an industry platform and play with the big boyz. I don't think these two things work well together and eventually Amazon will return to its commerce roots mainly because of the lack of social capability. Amazon is a formidable company, but they are too late to the game, they have no money in the bank to acquire what they need to compete and they are burdened by a big legacy business, deeply rooted into the Web. As (Microsoft), Google and Apple know, there are only so many social networks that can fuel a healthy platform. Most likely Amazon will become a substrate to support services with AWS, and of course, an "app", the kindle, assuming the platform guys leave these holes open (far from a given).
Yet, Amazon was a decisive factor in establishing the architecture of the platform. It reinforced the power of the vertical integration pioneered by Apple. If you come with a great device or set of devices, and an app store, customers will line up. Something that Google is still struggling to emulate with an open ecosystem, and I am not even talking about Microsoft. In other words, it is not the number of devices you sell that counts, it is the the numbers of end-users actively using the platform to buy digital goods, interact, store their stuff... If you doubt it, just ask Nokia ...
If the social integration is pretty much a given, the game gets really interesting when it comes to the vertical integration. As we have seen with Apple, customers don't see "choice" (or price) as a competitive advantage. People want simple product lines with products they can actually use, with clear and real innovation at each cycle, built by thoughtful product teams: selling incremental junk is no longer an option (as HP painfully learned). And yes, TV or Game consoles will be engulfed in the platform. How could the platform guys leave them on the table? Any device that can run an app will be vertically integrated in the platform (or replaced by one).
My best guess is that:
- MS/FB will partner strongly with or even acquire Nokia and HP.
- Google/Motorola will swallow HTC and/or LG, possibly bring Dell in its ecosystem
- Apple ... huh ... will buy Twitter, and RIM for its Enterprise App
Samsung could team up with Amazon, but most likely it will become the component provider of the platform guys. SONY's, Nintendo's and HP's troubles simply show that there is no more room for Independent Hardware Vendors: you are either a (vertically integrated) platform or you supply the platform with components, no, not even devices (I mean other than speakers and power adapters). The touch points to consumers are going to be completely locked down, not one will be left open.
Even Telco providers will be suppliers to the platform guys, with the Skype/Hangout/Facetime apps being the new face of telephony.
The interesting thing here is that unless social networks are just a fad, MS/FB is the most likely winner of that game. There is a large probability that MS/FB/NOK/HP could take on 80% of a vertically integrated, consumer oriented market. Even Ballmer could pull that off and retire on a real visionary success. Google will lose that game (this is not an engineers game, let alone using corny "Web" paradigms and UX, in any case they will take the decision to move to a vertically integrated model too late without any muscle behind it). Apple will take on a 20% "think different" crowd. Apple is not aggressive enough to win that game, they'll look back to their $100 B in the bank and ask themselves, if they could have used it more "wisely".
Facebook spent a billion, not to buy Instagram but to hold our industry by the balls. With its IPO behind, it will call the shots for years. And yes ... Zuckerberg is next CEO of "The Platform".
Fascinating times ... it's a shame that Steve is no longer with us.
06/18/2012: Microsoft announces the "Surface"
07/04/2012: Google Jelly Bean is a game changer. Google seems to finally get it, UX is key to win this game. I may be wrong after all, Microsoft may never be able to catch up. If Microsoft continues to mess up on the Mobile OS side over the next 6 months, there will be no Microsoft in the Mobile space moving forward.
07/06/2012: Amazon is planning to launch its own smartphone.
07/16/2012: Google (Motorola) is launching the Atrix HD.
07/20/2012: Microsoft reports a big jump in Skype usage, up 50%
07/23/2012: Amazon plans 6 new Kindle variants.
07/26/2012: Facebook works with HTC on its own smartphone
07/28/2012: Microsoft is in trouble, that may well be the statement that signals the decline of the company: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has sought to downplay the notion of Surface competing with partners, recently calling the device “just a design point.
7/31/2012: Details on Microsoft's plans to move to a vertically integrated model
8/20/2012: It looks like Microsoft does not aim at partnering / merging with Facebook, they sold 20% of their stake right after the IPO, that's kind of a shame, without even the shadow of a social network, they will have a hard time getting there. Unless their secret weapon is to make Yammer a general purpose social network.
8/22/2012: "The Platform" is on Amazon's Navigation Bar: App Store, Storage, ... Critically missing is the social network component.
9/06/2012: Amazon unvails the new Kindle, "People don’t want gadgets anymore, says Jeff Bezos, they want services that improve over time. Kindle Fire is a service. It greets you by name. Comes out of box with content preloaded, makes recommendations."
9/06/2012: Mobile gamers outnumber the console core.
9/12/2012: Zuckerberg "Facebook's Mobile opportunity is much bigger than what people think", "Everyone is now "underestimating" Facebook" (I am not ...)
10/02/2012: Windows Mobile market share continues falling
10/02/2012: 1st Apple-approved iOS game controller makes its debut
10/04/2012: Facebook Tops a Billion Users
10/09/2012: Ballmer to Microsoft shareholders: 'a fundamental shift [is] underway in our business' In his annual letter, CEO Steve Ballmer says Microsoft's future is a tight combination of hardware and software
10/12/2012: For the first time this month people searched less than last year. Our interpretation is that people now search more in context, using dedicated apps on their mobile device. This is particularly disruptive because that is the kind of search that has the most impact on commerce and advertising.
10/22/2012 Subliminal message from Zuckerberg: I would have worked at Microsoft if facebook had failed
10/25/2012 Ballmer: Microsoft has more hardware to come.
11/2/2012: Microsoft is testing its own smartphone
11/6/2012: Verizon shuts down its App Store
01/22/2013: Microsoft talks about investing 3B in Dell
02/14/2013: HP to adopt Android
Amazon is a great case study for our methodology. Amazon is a formidable innovator and strategic player. Not only did Amazon single-handedly pioneered the Platform, but it remains a fierce competitor to Apple and especially Google.
Amazon's achievements are epic, Jeff Bezos took the most boring and probably oldest ecosystem on the planet, an ecosystem that had barely changed from 1440 to 1999 and turned it into the most advanced commerce platform in the world, delivered the first successful commercial Cloud, the Kindle and competes head to head with Apple and Google which have far more resources.
How did the book ecosystem looked like before Amazon (from a retailer's perspective)?
How did Amazon changed it? Venkat Rao published a thorough analysis of Amazon's Strategy from 2000 to present. We will publish our complete analysis of Amazon's strategy in the book. Here, we will simply look at how they transformed their ecosystem and how they could transform it further? Here is what we saw:
Based on the moves that Venkat identified (again, just looking at the ones that have a direct impact on the ecosystem):
How will Amazon innovate in a relationship-Commerce (rCommerce) world? Here is how we see their ecosystem evolve.
Amazon could mine many different relationships:
Author-Reader: obviously with a print format, a book is static and cannot evolve until the following edition. In the Platform era, readers can ask for clarifications and authors can add footnotes and references, transforming the book into something a lot more dynamic.
Reader-Reader: Amazon is already sharing with their readers the sentences of a book that a majority of readers highlighted. Social eReaders also enables readers to exchange ideas about the book, in real-time or not. Who knows, why not even offer readers the ability to collaboratively rewrite sections of the book?
Book-Book: Amazon could create a new business model where readers can access the references of the book (for a fee), or maybe the entire referred book, for a short period of time, as you explore the reference. How many more books do you think Amazon could sell if they let readers explore references?
Book-Products/Location: the book could also be easily be connected with products or even locations. Why wouldn't Amazon set trips based on particular stories for readers who want to follow the steps of their heros? Conversely, if you are in a given place or heading on a trip, why not be able to query your library in such a way that sections of books that talk about that particular location can be made available easily? Similarly, why not be able to purchase products based on the content of the book or search for product references in your library?
Author-Author: again, a book is inherently a static document, with a begin and an end. Why not allow authors to collaborate and let different authors create different paths that inter-relate and let readers chose the path of the story they prefer, or different levels of details. Amazon could then charge based on the path and create a revenue share model.
... and we could go on and on, talking about the relationship between books and games, books and friends, and so on.
rCommerce is here, there is a massive land grab that is about to happen since pretty much every commerce activity is unRelated today.
But that's not it, our analysis shows something else. Amazon could be fighting the wrong battle altogether They would be extremely lucky if they could remain a platform operator and take a dent at Apple or Google's market in the long term. They lack a key component: the relationship engine (as described in our chapter, "the world in motion"). Apple has the potential to acquire its own, and Google will find ways to grow Google+, but Amazon has no means to acquire or built that capability. If it continues on its path to build a full platform, up to smartphone, it will waste precious resources that could be used to win a much more important battle.
Amazon is inherently an "App" company. The Kindle is an app, not a device. As we have seen above it can even be made a greater app, that could dominate the digital content industry, even ahead of iTunes. But Amazon could extend the reach of its commerce platform much further in the app world in a couple of dimensions:
a) the micro-commerce dimension: catering to the SoniCares of the world (see "the world in motion" chapter). It could look back at it's entire catalog of products and decide which item should be micro-commerce enabled.
b) the just-in-time commerce dimension: the Platform is about to prove further (if it was needed), Clay Christensen's theory that:
what’s really important is understanding the job that customers are trying to accomplish
The platform is putting a magic wand in every customers' pocket. Whatever job they are trying to accomplish, they can order whatever product or service they need, get support from the vendor, or other consumers, ...
Amazon has the opportunity to reinvent commerce, and bring commerce as you need it, just-in-time, with a collection of apps assisting jobs that Amazon customers do with Amazon's product.
Amazon is an app company but it doesn't know it. The Kindle is an app, micro-commerce and just-in-time commerce are a lot of apps that Amazon could bake like cookies. If they don't? Walmart or somebody else will...
This is cross-post from my new blog "unRelated"
In the chapter "A world in motion" that we made available, we explain how the Postal Service could reinvent itself and thrive as the logistics engine of the Platform. It seems that they are already well on their wayto take advantage of that opportunity:
The Metro Post service comes on the heels of a similar test by Wal-Mart, which earlier this week said it planned to offer same-day delivery in 10 cities this holiday season. Meanwhile, London-based Shutl received $2 million in funding from UPS in August for a same-day package delivery service, while eBay also is experimenting with the concept.
How will this seemingly unrelated move can change the world as we know it? Logistics is a key enabler of rCommerce (Relationship Commerce). It supports the relationships we have with our environment. In B = mc2, we explain that Philips could probably double their replacement part revenue for their SoniCare line, while making it far more cost effective, by simply providing a mobile app with a single button "Send me a toothbrush". Before the Platform, nobody knew I had a SoniCare toothbrush. Philips didn't know, the Postal Service didn't know, even the store where I bought it didn't know.
With rCommerce, we sell to the "relationship" be it the relationship between people, or the relationship between people and the things in their environment.
So, how will Same-Day-Delivery change our world?
a) Replacement parts are cool: for instance, our everyday appliances will evolve to have a lot more replacement parts instead of being designed to be thrown away as soon as something fails
b) Everything that can be ordered from an app will disappear from the shelves leaving a lot of empty space, these shelves will move to the Postal Service warehouses
c) Retail Stores will reconfigure themselves to be either a catalog (show room) or an inventory that the Postal Service cannot handle easily. Retail couples three processes: catalog (the shelves), inventory and order/payment. The Platform will decouple them and Order/Payment will be handled directly with the customer mobile device, because this is the easiest way to establish the relationship between the customers and the products they buy. All the mobile terminals that you see in an Apple store or at Sears for instance, will quickly be replaced by an app running on your own device.
Make no mistake about it, rCommerce will reshape the retail landscape as we know it.
I would not be surprised if one day we see the emergence of "continuous delivery"...
Ganesh Prasad and Eric Newcomer are probably one of the two people I respect the most in the SOA community. I had the privilege to work on WS-CAF with Eric and that standard forged most of what I think is right on SOA. I also had the pleasure to meet Ganesh in Sydney in 2009.
That being said I am appalled that in 2012 we are still debating the question Eric asked to Prasad at QCon NY:
"Where I was working previously at Credit Suisse, we had a long debate about sharing and how to share code; we had done some analysis to find there was a lot of overlapping and duplicate functionality in the applications and we could rationalize those down to perhaps a single function that would be shared, but then we had a big question of how should we share it the best way; should we share it with libraries, should we put an abstract interface on it, how should we do it; what are your thoughts there? "
This is an excellent question, one that has haunted and apparently still haunts our industry. So for the record I would like to explain why it is so hard to reuse code and why and how it could be made much easier.
The main consideration you have to make to answer that question is to realize that every concept (software agent, information entity, physical thing, document...), absolutely everything, no matter what it is, has a lifecycle. Unfortunately for us, computers "compute" and do not really care about the states in which "things" are, hence there is nowhere in computer programming languages the notion of state and lifecycle. This is one of the greatest tragedy of software engineering.
I wrote many posts on that concept, but let me reiterate it here one more time. Here is a lifecycle, the lifecycle of stock order (as in stock market). Every state can be understood by any developer and most of them can code easily all the actions that will correspond to each transition on that diagram. That is the code that Eric is talking about, the one that we want to reuse for different situations, for instance retail vs private brokerage.
The fundamental problem to reuse is the lifecycle itself, the lifecycle is often, if not always different for every context, making it impossible to reuse. People look at reusing operations, blindly, without understanding there is an inherent lifecycle. They say I have a "createStockOrder" operation (POST StockOrder in REST BS), I have a submitStockOrder, a cancelStockOrder, ... check, check, check, retail and private brokerage should be able to use the same operations. Well, a typical problem between private and retail is that the funds are available at different times. Retail operations demand that funds be ready and alocated when the order is submitted, when private activities often involves reallocating funds which are not yet settled at the time the order is taken. As long as the transaction can be settled properly, private banking operations can operate without the funds.
So in general, two different contexts, in which the "service" will be used will require variations on the lifecycle implemented by the service. It is often trivial to align a lifecycle to support multiple contexts, it is just a mater of adding states and transitions. But no, our industry went the other way, it came up with REST, it said, you can't reuse the actions, let's make them disappear, voila. No lifecycles, no actions, everything is now burried under a big pile of CRUD. You want to reuse something? You are on your own, PUT, POST, DELETE, ... that's all you get.
So no Ganesh, this is not a problem of "smaller components", "chunks", "coupling" or "cohesion" ... this is simply a problem of lifecycle and variants of the lifecycle based on the context of utilisation. If the lifecycle is the same, great, you can reuse it, if the context requires a different one, you have to augment the existing lifecycle to match two or more contexts. The common parts of the lifecycle (states and actions) will be "reused", the ones that are specifically used for supporting a particular context cannot be reused.
No, it is not a dependency question, it is not a blueprint, it is not about breaking, reuse, ... it is about lifecycle. I am not quite sure why it is not possible to have an honest and serious discussion about the relationship between SOA, reuse and lifecycles. That has puzzled me for quite some time actually.
Ah ... I nearly forgot, and "reuse" happens the other way around. It is not the new context that is using the old lifecycle, it is the the old contexts which are reusing the new updated lifecycle.
How hard can it be to understand that?
Jack Greenfield and I have started the process of publishing a new book B = mc2.
“The Platform” is creating a tectonic shift that could be compared to the invention of concrete, the Darby Furnace, the transport of electricity or container shipping.
Market structures and Industry boundaries are about to shift in unforeseeable ways, and every space of the economy should be considered, today, uncontested. There are simply no amount of historical patterns, cost cutting, dashboards, 4 square frameworks or even sustainable evolutions that can prepare an organization to transition into that new world.
The book itself is about a new Business Strategy Methodology well suited to successfully transition your business to the Platform.
We have started a new blog "unRelated", http://www.b-mc2.com/feed
If you have any feedback, Jack Greenfield and I would be happy to hear it.
We have some exciting news to report on Canappi's mobile back-end capabilities. We have used MongoLab MongoDB's hosted service for a number of projects and we have made it even easier to create data services for mobile apps using MongoLab.
All you have to do is create a data model such as that one (A job application data model ):
Canappi generates a new MDSL file which contains 800 lines of a mobile application which can List, Detail, Create, Update and Delete any of the entities of the data model. Before you would have had to write these 800 lines by hand pretty much:
And voila, you can generate the Objective-C code for the corresponding iPhone / iPad application, including the login screen for the entities that require login (do not forget to create a hireme database in MongoLab and update the API key):
And ... well if you wanted to deploy your app using PHP/MySQL or WSO2 Data Services Server, the same data model definition enables you to do just that !