Blogging

Perspective: Computer-challenged elves need not apply

Blogging
Perspective: Computer-challenged elves need not apply Richard Schmalensee Hammers and nails are gathering dust in the elves' workshop this season. That's because two hot gifts - PlayStation 3 and Tickle Me Extreme Elmo - are almost entirely dependent on software inside. These new toys are just the latest evidence that software platforms have become one of the most important economic and technological developments of the early 21st century. They are the invisible engines behind not just toys, but the businesses of the future. Sony introduced its PlayStation 3 last month to long lines and megabids on eBay. There's no telling how many annoying habits a teenage boy might give up if you snag one of these dream machines for the holiday season. Then there's TMX Elmo. He slaps his knee...

It’s an e-tailer… No, an e-commerce platform… No, a software platform!

Blogging
It's an e-tailer... No, an e-commerce platform... No, a software platform! Andrei Hagiu I recently attended a keynote speech given by Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon at MIT. Up until I heard Bezos’ speech, I thought of Amazon as the world’s largest Internet retailer of books and other things—a giant, online marketplace that had managed to successfully evolve its business model from a WalMart-style pure retailer towards an eBay-style, e-commerce platform. If you recall, in 1999, Bezos launched a "marketplace" initiative to allow some of Amazon’s suppliers to operate their own storefronts on the Amazon.com website, under various contractual arrangements: zShops, Merchants@Amazon.com, Merchants.com. The basic idea was to reduce the amount of inventory and risks that Amazon t

The Other Software Tradeshow this Week

Blogging
The Other Software Tradeshow this Week David S. Evans I met with a well-known technology company recently. Engineers dominate their workforce. Up until a few years ago most of them were hardware engineers. Today most of them are software engineers. This shift signals an extraordinarily important transformation in the information technology revolution that drove the economy in the last quarter century. Hardware development and manufacturing remains critical and continues to generate plenty of innovation. But many businesses today are built around the software platforms that sit between the hardware—such as a mobile phone chipset or a server farm—and a rich ecosystem of end users, software developers, hardware makers, content providers, and others. Software will be the key to suc