The value of dominant market share for web services and platforms

John Gruber links to a post about how (mobile) market share doesn’t matter:

Essentially, the historical advantage of dominant market share has been the ability to raise (discriminately) the switching cost of competing platforms. […]

The table stakes applications (Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, etc.) are available on most of the leading mobile platforms. If not available specifically as native applications, these services as often accessible as web applications. For apps beyond the main set, a reasonably informed consumer can find ready substitutes.

The data format worries of the PC era are now largely irrelevant, largely as a result of the web and outcomes of Microsoft’s Interoperability Commitments.

This got me thinking. The cost of switching may no longer apply to the hardware and operating system, but instead, the cost applies to switching services. It’s interesting that Lessien mentions Facebook, Twitter, and Kindle, because these are three services — or platforms — that contain a lot of valuable content and information that is hard, even impossible, to get out and use independently of the specific platforms. Closed platforms like these three services, with dominant market share, absolutely have a high cost of switching (friends and information on Facebook; tweets, followers and connections like @replies on Twitter; and your entire book collection with Kindle, which is an actual financial cost). Even if it’s easy to use these services across platforms, if you want to switch services, the cost — measured not financially, but in terms of the value of content and information — is still high.

We are no longer tethered by specific data formats, instead, we are tethered by specific accounts (which is why service interoperability and data portability are so important).

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