Daddy, what’s a platform?

On a recent trip back to Boston, I have found myself spending a lot of time explaining to family and friends what I do. And even though I’ve been involved with promoting developer platforms for nearly 3 years, the conversation never gets old to me. My explanation and dialogue go like this…

ME:
So my official title is Director of Developer Platform.

FAMILY MEMBER x:
Hmmmm. I know what Director means. And I know you work with developers and speak with/to them at conferences. What’s a platform?

ME:
Ok…. So, you know the iPhone? That’s not really a phone, it’s a platform.

FMx:
Right. I think. I mean, like some watches don’t just tell time, I don’t just use my iPhone for making calls.

ME:
Right. You’ve probably got many applications on there that you use. Well, those applications were built by developers for the iPhone. They were sold to you through Apple’s store and the developer made money. When a developer can build an app ‘on top’ of a web site, service, SYSTEM or DEVICE, we call that a platform.

FMx:
I think I get it. So you sell something to the developer that let’s them build stuff on your platform?

ME:
Not exactly. That’s the best part. Most platforms let developers build things for free. When I am engaging developers and EVANGELIZING Ribbit, the fun thing is that any developer can obtain our SDK, that’s the code/documentation/examples they need to build stuff, at no cost. They can also test their app ‘on top’ of our service at no cost.

FMx:
That’s funny… “Evangelize”, I get it. So why do you do this?

ME:
Well, in the case where a developer is going to build something ‘on top’ of a service, it basically means that the service will be integrated (added) into the application. So when someone else uses the service, there is a transaction of some kind that Ribbit will charge for.

FMx:
Ahhhh.

ME:
And the developer can make money by either selling their app, like in the case of the iPhone, billing OR re-selling the service inside their app, or billing time as a consultant to build on the platform for someone else.

FMx:
What do you like about doing this?

ME:
I love working with and engaging other developers. Knowing that our platform can inspire them to build new things around such great technology. I like introducing to the developer new opportunities that enable them to both innovate and monetize their efforts and talents. It also keeps me involved with the latest technologies in Flash, sites like Facebook and now with new mobile platforms like Android.

FMx:
This all sounds very exciting for you. I can tell that you like what you do. So when are you going to start making movies?!?!

ME:
🙂