In a tech sharing discussion, we talked about cloud computing. And we’d mentioned salsforce.com.
I’ve never been a user of salesforce.com, or have spent some time studying it. But I do know it’s hot, a super star. I talked to some friends in US. All of them thought that, the SAAS way, was the trend.
I think the secret is the platform, and what’s more important, the platform ONLY. If salesforce.com has a huge development team, who customize software for clients worldwide, he can still succeed. But that would never make it a great company, only a good one.
Saleforce.com must have provided a platform and opportunities for other software company, who can make products for different customers, in all sorts of niche markets. Salesforce.com doesn’t try to do them all by itself. It provide the platform and the core functions only. It thrives by letting other software companies thrive together.
While deciding what features to provide, it’s not always an easy call. By controlling a successful platform, it’s tempting to try developing some applications yourself. Anyway, you are the one who has most understanding of the platform. It’s predictable you can work out better application. The advantage is easy to be seen. I guess Microsoft would love this approach. Checkout IE, MS Office… If you do it, it will hurt the platform in long term. It will drive some app development company away. But I’m not sure if it is really that ‘bad’. Microsoft did it, it’s still a profitable company, making a lot of money every year. That may depends on the competitiveness of the market, how easy your platform can be replicated or how hard to change the habit of the users, so many factors to be included.
When twitter provides the official Retweet feature, I feel a little bit unnerved. Is this really necessary? Is the existing RT not good enough? Will it break some existing contract, explicit or implicit? The twitter team must think they have already thought these through. Maybe they have.
But I’m still more reserved on this. Sometimes missing is art. While you don’t provide a feature, you provide opportunities.