Design Rules, Volume 2: How Technology Shapes Organizations: Chapter 17 The Wintel Standards-based Platform

30 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2019

See all articles by Carliss Y. Baldwin

Carliss Y. Baldwin

Harvard Business School, Finance Unit

Date Written: November 5, 2019

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to use the theory of bottlenecks laid out in previous chapters to better understand the dynamics of an open standards-based platform. I describe how the Wintel platform evolved from 1990 through 2000 under joint sponsorship of Intel and Microsoft. I first describe a series of technical bottlenecks that arose in the early 1990s concerning the “bus architecture” of IBM-compatible PCs.

Intel’s management of buses demonstrates how, under conditions of distributed supermodular complementarity, a platform sponsor can reconfigure the modular structure of a technical system, property rights within the system, and its own zone of authority to increase system-wide throughput, while protecting its own strategic bottleneck from disintermediation.

I go on to describe how Microsoft used platform envelopment to establish a second strategic bottleneck in productivity software and later to respond to the threat of disintermediation from platform-independent Internet browsers. I end the chapter by discussing the conditions under which shared platform sponsorship can be a long-term dynamic equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

Baldwin, Carliss Y., Design Rules, Volume 2: How Technology Shapes Organizations: Chapter 17 The Wintel Standards-based Platform (November 5, 2019). Harvard Business School, Harvard Business School Research Paper Series # 20-055. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3482515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3482515

Carliss Y. Baldwin (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School, Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

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