Platform Utility: state reached by a platform when both complementors (usually corporations augmenting value of the platform for the user and having a business model relying on this platform) and users enable each other’s growth, reaching a virtuous circle state. Let’s have a conceptual look at Twitter:
Twitter system has grown thanks to its complementors. Url shorteners, media (first pictures then videos) services, apps… all these tools have allowed Twitter’s open system to reach a huge mass of people. The problem is that the platform owner (Twitter in this case) loses customer touch points and sees innovation not inside, but outside of the platform. It is very risky, especially when you consider monetizing the gathered audience. That’s the reason why Twitter has launched a new API authentication method, has included new features (first partnering, but in the end killing many complementors) and has released own apps, all this wrapped in a New Twitter marketing message.
Facebook is best-in-class in terms of Platform Utility. They innovate, they defined a very controlled place for complementors allowing them to be profitable in their activity, they listen to their users, being ready to step back if needed and they re-invent themselves continuously, not being stuck on a plan, but open to what’s happening. Twitter is not really good at these, and their new CEO Dick Costolo will probably tackle these issues in the future. But will complementors survive? And what will happen to the ecosystem? Maybe new complementors (brands?) will enter the game… providing a decent business model.