Software platforms are an important part of the digital world because they allow people to share content, create content, and develop products for phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Understanding the significance of software platforms can help you understand e-commerce, digital technology, and the digital marketplace. In this article, we discuss what software platforms are and list some of the different platforms in use today.
What are software platforms?
Software platforms are digital products that make technology work, and they generally fall into two categories: applications and operating systems. A software platform is usually an operating system that runs a device, such as your laptop or your phone. For example, the operating system of your cell phone is the platform on which third-party developers build apps that you can use on the phone.
Some software applications effectively operate as platforms. The programming language Java, for example, is a software application that you can download to a device and run applications with. Regardless of the type of software, platforms are the foundation on which developers create products for consumer use.
Types of software platforms
Here is a list of software platforms and how they function:
1. Technology platforms
A technology platform is not user-facing. Instead, it’s the foundation upon which a user-facing company builds its product. For instance, two different video-streaming services might use the same technology platform, but their interfaces would look different to users since they’re interacting with company-specific interfaces rather than the underlying software.
2. Operational platforms
An operational platform is both a user interface and the underlying platform a device uses. For example, regardless of the brand and model, your smartphone uses an operational platform. The operational software on your cell phone allows third-party app developers to create products that run on it. Other devices, such as tablets, smart TVs, or computers, also use operational platforms.
3. Service platforms
A service platform usually involves a website or other digital product that offers users something for free. The platform’s goal is to use the free service to get a large enough audience that the platform appeals to advertisers. A search engine is one example of a service platform. Users use the search engine to find things on the internet and eventually, the platform begins monetizing the audience through advertising.
Another example of a service platform might be a website that caters to the travel industry. Users can use the site to find affordable flights, look up hotels, explore potential tourist activities, and plan a trip. The service is free, and the value to the platform comes when a higher number of users earns the site higher advertising rates.
4. Video games
Each model of gaming console has its own software platform, for which third-party developers build games specific to that software. Releasing a new generation of gaming consoles requires updating the hardware that programmers use to create games, and the software that acts as the foundation for the games also changes. Like other platforms, gaming console software can update and add new features, correct errors or address security concerns.
5. Engagement platforms
These are platforms focused on user engagement and interaction with other users. An engagement platform often is free to use and includes social media sites, which allow users to post content and interact with other users. User identity is an essential component of these sites because it allows users to create a persona or be themselves, choose a username, and add personal information. After creating an account, users can post content, share others’ content, and contact other users. Types of user accounts include organizations, businesses, real people, and fictitious people.
The platform then uses algorithms to track user behavior and serve content to them based on their interests and interactions. Engaging and retaining users allows the platform to profit from its services through advertising.
6. Digital marketplaces
A digital marketplace focuses on facilitating e-commerce by connecting users in search of goods with people or organizations in search of potential buyers. Digital marketplaces include categories like real estate, retail goods, auctions, investor fundraising, and vacation property rental. A digital marketplace platform has elements of a search engine, as people on the site search for specific items. It also allows for a level of user engagement, since the platform often allows users to post and respond to information, such as reviews.
7. Consumer demand platforms
This type of software application acts as its own platform, often as a downloadable app. Ride-sharing services, grocery delivery services, and on-demand consumer services are common examples of this type of platform. Consumer demand platforms usually have a payment system, a way to track the status of the consumer’s request, and a way to rate the service received. The platforms typically focus on a specific area, such as ride-sharing, unlike a digital marketplace that might provide a wide selection of e-commerce options.
8. Content platforms
Content platforms sometimes allow the uploading and sharing of videos or allow users to stream video games. The platforms focus on empowering users to create and share their content with others. Often the platforms have a revenue-sharing relationship with content creators. As content creators get views on their content, the platform allows for the appearance of automated ads. The platform and the content creator split revenue generated by the ads through a rate based on views or clicks.
9. Data harvesting platforms
A data harvesting platform gathers information from around the web. Often, this involves programming that allows the data harvester to crawl websites and collect data. Some data harvester platforms gather data through their platform, such as mapping services that harvest location data. To join the platform, users allow the use of their data, allowing the user to get the service while the platform gets more data that helps deliver that service.
I hope you find this article helpful.