The Architecture of Platforms: A Unified View

by Carliss Baldwin & Jason Woodard

The central role of “platform” products and services in mediating the activities of disaggregated “clusters” or “ecosystems” of firms has been widely recognized. But platforms and the systems in which they are embedded are very diverse. In particular, platforms may exist within firms as product lines, across firms as multi-product systems, and in the form of multi-sided markets. In this paper, Carliss (with Jason Woodward) argues that there is a fundamental unity in the architecture of platforms, discusses APIs, stability, control, and evolution. They conclude by addressing a number of fundamental strategic questions suggested by a unified view of platforms.

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