The Skype Economy Do you have a product or a platform? More and more companies are recognizing that the real route to success is not to offer a product, but a platform on which other products are offered. With that in mind, we're seeing more and more products that are building up strong and active development communities that make their initial offering more useful and valuable to buyers. Recently there have been articles about the ecosystem of companies who provide enhancements for the iPod, and now some are recognizing that Skype is moving into similar territory. Of course, the risk for companies or developers who build on these newer platforms is that they're totally beholden to the provider -- and that puts them at risk. They have no control over the environment they're working in. Skype could decide to build the same functionality themselves. Or, other products could become more popular than Skype. Sometimes it works... but many companies don't realize the danger of putting all their eggs in one basket. If they pick the right platform, it can be lucrative for a while, but it's not always easy to know who's going to win. [via Techdirt]

If the underlying platform is standards based then there is some protection (you can switch platform wholesale or a segment within the platform), otherwise, it's a count down to the inevitable. Anyplatform provider that isn't standards based (where standards exist in their realm), will always attack ersthwhile partners as part of its growth needs. This is a consistent and time-proven industry pattern.