Product or Platform

The infamous internal-accidentally-turned-external post of Steve Yegge (now deleted, but saved for history in many places, for example here) is a typical rant. You know, that kind of rants where you start writing about one big topic, then jump to another unrelated one, and then bounce in-between trying to come-up with a resume reasonably combining them into something that ought to appear a neutrally-tempered educational article rather than an outburst of your accumulated emotions.

I like rants. I like passionate people, and I like watching them showing their world. And, as a rule of thumb, rants usually deliver a valuable insight or unexpected point of view.

This time, it was the Product or Platform story. Summing it up in a nice bite-sized paragraph, it goes like this.

Great products must hit the nerve of your users. Product managers are bad at predicting where exactly the nerve is, before their product hits the market. Thus, they often have to adjust the product (sometime drastically) in its further iterations. Therefore, you should develop not a product in the first place, but a platform for making products. This will allow for quick after-TTM product adjustments; and for external contribution into killer product features.

Just like with many right ideas, it is not new per se, new is only that is it written down so explicitly.

Take Axinom for example. Instead of creating yet another version of their CMS, they did a revolutionary thing: they have created a specialized UX platform — a collection of patterns, concepts, and technology allowing them quickly produce highly ergonomical and immersive information management applications. Having that, they have now all the means to implement really killing apps for their customers. And they’ve invented it way before the Mr. Yegge’s rant.

With the SilverHD DRM product, we went along the similar path. Based on our know-how about all kinds of typical business models used by different VoD shops in the European market, we’ve created concepts and technology allowing to securely define entitlements (who is allowed to consume which media under what restrictions). The concrete DRM mechanism to enforce these entitlements was purposedly left variable; we’ve started with PlayReady and WM-DRM; and it will perhaps be adjusted in the future with other DRMs such as Widewine or Marlin.

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