“Dethroning an Established Platform”

MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 53:4, p. 35-41, 2012 (Summer), with Jax Kirtley

As part of an ongoing research project into the evolution of the smartphone industry involving substantial data collection at the industry, firm and device level, we turned our focus to the dynamics of platform dominance. We conducted semi-structured interviews with several early iPhone software complementors in order to explore the drivers to adoption during the platform’s earliest days. Our interviewees represented a variety of roles, including founding entrepreneur/CEO, cross-platform software engineer, former Apple developer turned app architect, and web and app development consultant. The story that unfolded from these interviews, while consistent with existing platform theory in several aspects, also seemed to diverge from its views and recommendations in important ways. From this observation, we delved deeper into the existing literature on platform competition looking for specific examples of platform companies that have successfully dethroned established competitors. We found interesting patterns that, if confirmed by future studies, could point towards the elements of a successful strategy for dethroning platform leaders.

Read Full Text