Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1264012
 
 

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Opening Platforms: How, When and Why?


Thomas R. Eisenmann


Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Geoffrey Parker


Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business

Marshall W. Van Alstyne


Boston University - Department of Management Information Systems; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School

August 31, 2008

This paper has been published under the same title as Chapter 6 in Platforms, Markets & Innovation (ed. Gawer, 2009) pp 131-162
Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 09-030

Abstract:     
Platform-mediated networks encompass several distinct types of participants, including end users, complementors, platform providers who facilitate users' access to complements, and sponsors who develop platform technologies. Each of these roles can be opened - that is, structured to encourage participation - or closed. This paper reviews factors that motivate decisions to open or close mature platforms. At the platform provider and sponsor levels, these decisions entail: 1) interoperating with established rival platforms; 2) licensing additional platform providers; or 3) broadening sponsorship. With respect to end users and complementors, decisions to open or close a mature platform involve: 1) backward compatibility with prior platform generations; 2) securing exclusive rights to certain complements; or 3) absorbing complements into the core platform. Over time, forces tend to push both proprietary and shared platforms toward hybrid governance models characterized by centralized control over platform technology (i.e., closed sponsorship) and shared responsibility for serving users (i.e., an open provider role).

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: platforms, network effects, open innovation, standards, two-sided networks

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Date posted: September 7, 2008 ; Last revised: June 12, 2014

Suggested Citation

Eisenmann, Thomas R. and Parker, Geoffrey and Van Alstyne, Marshall W., Opening Platforms: How, When and Why? (August 31, 2008). This paper has been published under the same title as Chapter 6 in Platforms, Markets & Innovation (ed. Gawer, 2009) pp 131-162; Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 09-030. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1264012 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1264012

Contact Information

Thomas R. Eisenmann (Contact Author)
Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )
Cambridge, MA 02163
United States
Geoffrey Parker
Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business ( email )
7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States
504-865-5000 (Phone)
504-865-6751 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://ggparker.net
Marshall W. Van Alstyne
Boston University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-358-3571 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://smgapps.bu.edu/mgmt_new/profiles/VanAlstyneMarshall.html
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School ( email )
Center for Digital Business
5 Cambridge Center - NE25, 7th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-0768 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://web.mit.edu/marshall/www/home.html
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