Platform Wars: Some Things Will Never Change

on May 28, 2013

Regular readers of Tech.pinions will know that John Kirk’s column last week on Android’s market share being a joke, went massively viral. As I watched the stats of real-time visitors and new hourly spikes of traffic I was truly amazed. Many of you may not know but for about a year and a half I was on the executive team of one of the popular tech and gadget blogs. In my time there I never saw anything do what John’s column did in terms of global attention.

With the wide-spread circulation of John’s 2400 word analysis came a slew of comments. Over 560 and counting to be precise. Many of our regular readers jumped in and what ensued was a pretty healthy dialogue for the most part. But in the course of the large comment thread, I think we saw every major anti-Apple argument come out. ((I hope to do a summary of the major points from each side and provide key thoughts on each of them)) Which leads me to my point. In regard to these platform wars, some things will never change.

Ultimately, humans are tribal beings. We have a strong urge to associate and affiliate with a tribe. This is perhaps most strongly demonstrated at any major sporting event. We praise the home team but boo the opposing team and all their players. We have a strong desire to win and be on the winning team. So it shouldn’t surprise us when a polarizing situation presents itself that we see tribal behavior.

It doesn’t matter how rational of a conversation we try to have about understanding the complexities of business, like market share statistics for example. Or that business is made up of a complex web of market forces that when isolated do not tell the whole story around the health or viability of a product, company, or market.

So many points in this platform war discussion are based on flawed assumptions that everyone values the same thing. That people are pragmatic, and rational beings. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Humans are diverse and that diversity is reflected in the diversity of products and solutions that exist in the markets we study. It is this profound market diversity that many don’t understand.

So this discussion will continue and we will all try to have an informed dialogue on the complexities of business but some things will never change. Humans are tribal beings. If only we could recognize that there are situations where for one tribe to win the other does not have to lose. If only.