don't forget the accessories

The PLATFORM strategy is one of the five strategies recommended in The Marketing Playbook by Zagula and Tong. Rather than assuming customers want one-stop shopping, the platform strategy encourages third-parties to extend your product with accessories. The famous case of dBase III shows how an extensible solution led to an industry full of thousands of VARs actually adding value to the basic dBase III platform. Then, as explained by Rick Chapman in his book In Search of Stupidity, the execs at Ashton-Tate decided to kill the third-party market but instead destroyed the dBase product. The dBase platform created the third-party community but the third-party community ultimately created the success of the platform. People spend much more on the accessories than for their iPods and Blackberries. Didn't you buy the better headset, the bluetooth, the car mount? Proclipusa0810 I have a Toyota Camry. It has a nice little cubby with a line-in jack for my iPod. Uh, how do I select songs? Oh yes, open the cubby, remove the iPod, choose your playlist, put it all back in the cubby, and enjoy! Hmmm, sounds like the dashboard designers didn't want anything to interfere with the elegance of their design. It seems that Toyota (and all car manufacturers) would rather sell me rims and sports apparel than a phone or iPod mount that integrates with the dashboard. Thankfully, the team at ProClipUSA has the solution. They have figured out clever ways to shove a mount into the joints and openings of most car models. First, tell them what car you have and they'll tell you what mounts work; then tell them what device you have and voila! you have a holder for your iPod, your Blackberry, your GPS, your whatever. You'd think that the car designers would offer these dashboard "extensions" for the most popular third-party devices or perhaps they should set up a partnership with ProClipUSA. Instead they assume a "closed" posture and miss an opportunity. Should you pursue a platform strategy? You could. You can create a better customer fit without using your own resources. To do so, provide APIs and partnering programs to extend your product without doing everything yourself.
Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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