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The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business Paperback – October 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Essential reading on the state of business today-and where it is going. Ignore this book at your own peril."
-Adrian C. Ott, award-winning author, The 24-Hour Customer

"The Age of the Platform is the kind of book to read if you want to better understand the Internet and how your company can fit into it and create a business model to profit from it."
-Anita Campbell, co-author of Visual Marketing

"Nothing short of a 21st-century business survival guide."
-Mike Faith, CEO & President,

"Phil Simon sees a forest when the rest of us just see trees. In this compelling mix of research and interpretation, Simon shows how the future of business isn't just technology, but its tentacles."
-Jay Baer, co-author of The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social

From the Author

Buoyed by the success of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, companies of all sizes are fundamentally rethinking how they do business. They are creating vibrant ecosystems, and in the process, reaping big rewards. In the tradition of The Long Tail, The Age of the Platform demonstrates how the world of business today is vastly different from that of even ten years ago. Today the most successful companies are operating under an entirely different business model-one predicated on collaboration, rapid development, emerging technologies, and externally driven innovation. The Age of the Platform introduces and describes a critical new business model, one essential to survive in today's increasingly fragmented and dynamic economy. 

Without question, the Gang of Four has ascended to absolutely astounding heights. Yes, these companies excel via their superior use of technology. They have built incredible ecosystems. They've embraced partnerships and external innovation. Beyond all of this, The Gang of Four has defined an entirely new way of doing business: the platform. 

A platform is simply a set of integrated planks.

The most powerful platforms today have two things in common: 
  • They are rooted in equally powerful technologies--and their intelligent usage. In other words, they differ from traditional platforms in that they are not predicated on physical assets, land, and natural resources. 
  • They benefit tremendously from vibrant ecosystems (read: partners, developers, users, customers, and communities). 
While platforms inhere a great deal of potential commercial appeal and applications, they do not exist simply as a means for companies to hawk their wares. At their core, platforms today are primarily about consumer utility and communications. Finally, because consumer tastes change much faster than business' tastes, platforms today must adapt very quickly--or face obsolescence.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Motion Publishing; revised edition (October 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982930259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982930250
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Phil Simon (@philsimon) is a sought-after speaker and the award-winning author of seven management books, most recently Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It. A recognized technology expert, he advises organizations on matters related to communications, strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured on Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, NBC, CNBC, Inc, BusinessWeek, Huffington Post, FoxNews, The New York Times, and many other sites.

To find out more about Phil and his books, go to

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian S. Sommer on April 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read the book last week after meeting Phil in person. He and I apparently share a number of perspectives re: software platforms except that I cover them (for ZDNet) as an adjunct of business enterprise software. Phil has a more expansive view and sees the Big 4 (Amazon, Salesforce, Google and Apple) as containing the largest ecosystems and most complete platforms to date. I'd agree.

I liked his book and think there's actually a lot in it that should give more traditional IT people plenty to ponder.If your firm is considering a change in application software, it needs to have a platform strategy in mind before making any further purchases. If you're considering a career (or job change) in IT, read the book. Platforms have some compelling economics that will change the custom and package software markets (hint: they will democratize them like never before). If you're a senior IT professional, business executive, or consultant, read the book to become aware of a big shift in software.

Phil did a very good job researching the book but more importantly, he called out what you need to know. All of which was done in a concise and easy to read format. As someone who pores over countless business books each year, his was a joy to read. Frankly, I can't stand the overly long, formulaic books that have only a couple of new ideas in the first two chapters and then fill the rest of the book with ponderous examples that barely advance the thinking. This book makes points throughout and that makes it fun and worth reading.

Brian Sommer
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Hickey on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
The business landscape is littered with companies who are the corporate equivalent of the Bay City Rollers - one hit wonders whose initial success lacks any follow-up. But why do Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have a future so bright that you gotta wear shades? Simon deftly illustrates, through best of breed examples, how the Big 4 have managed to outwit, outplay and outlast the competition and create a sustainable advantage. Their secret sauce? An open but proprietary platform that invites third party innovation while maintaining ultimate control over the customer experience. It's the reason Amazon just finished its best season ever while former category leaders like Blockbuster, Borders and Sears have closed their doors forever (or soon will). Sherpa Simon takes us down the path less travelled and invites the reader to learn by example the lessons (and mistakes) that separate the winners from the flash in the pan phenoms. I highly and enthusiastically recommend this book for business leaders and wannabe rock stars alike, even if the only instrument you ever mastered on a S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y night is the air guitar.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jack Spain on January 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
Phil Simon provides the reader with valuable insights of critical characteristics to create viable, scalable, and sustainable technology businesses. His introduction provides useful background information on the generations of the Internet that sets the stage for his interesting insights into the evolution of several dominant technology businesses today which are highlighted throughout the book: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. In the third section, Simon offers his analysis and conclusions regarding "platforms and planks" that he argues are the foundation of new technology-based businesses that seek to scale and persevere in this extremely dynamic technology space. The reader will discover that it is evident that Simon has extensive experience in this area and has conducted considerable research behind this book to support his conclusions.

I have personally experienced remarkable change as both a consumer and producer of technology solutions as a technology professional now in my 5th decade in the technology sector. I have witnessed the rise and fall of mainframes, timesharing services, minicomputers, distributed computing, client/server computing, and personal computing; which have ultimately led to the Internet era that dominates our lives today. I also had the pleasure to gain a wealth of experiences in the rise and fall of the era in the early part of this millennium. During my professional career, I have had to develop responses to the rise and fall of dozens of technology businesses including Wang, DEC, Burroughs, UNIVAC, Honeywell, Tandy, COMPAQ, Cray, Apple (the first generation), Sun, Nortel, Sybase, Netscape, AOL, Yahoo, to highlight just a few.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Kesler on October 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
I had the good fortune of organizing a very large book study group to coincide with an in-person presentation that author Phil Simon held at my company. I think what I like most about the book is that Phil works very hard to share the good and the bad in a fair way that does not end up overly glorifying or demonizing the companies he studied. The book also does a great job in highlighting themes and common viewpoints shared by people in very different settings. Though tech companies are often used as examples, Phil does a good job of suggesting the aspects of a "Platform Mindset" (my term) which are equally useful and thought provoking for OTHER industries and even non-profit organizations. What I also like about "Age of the Platform" is that you don't necessarily have to read it cover to cover (though it certainly works well that way). We needed a book that would help us shake up the thinking of our managers in constructive ways. "The Age of the Platform" fit the bill perfectly.
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