Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When publishing onto two platforms one will end up being the "lesser" of the two.


When a company produces a product for multiple platform invariably one of the platform is the primary platform. This can take on a number of forms such as:

  •  Releasing to one platform first.
  •  Releasing updates only to one platform.
  •  Releasing a reduced feature set for the later platforms.
  •  Releasing a product for a later platform that while works doesn't fit in or follow that platforms UI guidelines.
  •  The primary platform is stable while the secondary ones have bugs/crash.

Some big examples:

  • Video drivers: Windows XP v.s. Linux
  • Flash: Windows v.s. Linux
  • Video games: PS3/360 v.s. the Wii
  • Mobile apps: iphone v.s. android
  • Git: Linux v.s. Windows
  • Books: physical v.s. ebook
  • DVD's: U.S. v.s. Australia

There are many reasons for why this happens such as management believing that the primary platform will make more money, or the company (or the developers) have more experience in the primary platform or even as silly as the CEO getting the primary platform for christmas and mandating it is the primary. The secondary platforms are seen as nice to have and a possible extra source of revenue, but it would be foolish to think that they will have the same quality/features as the primary platform.

If the company has any hard times they will kill the secondary platform first.  If the product is ever killed it will almost always first be killed on the secondary platforms.

This is often a frustrating thing for the consumer as they typically can't do much about it, but at least realizing that you are on a secondary platform can help you schedule extra testing time and lower your expectations about what you will get.

The one nice thing is once you realize that product X is the future and its primary platform is not on your platform of choice and you believe that platform is the future then there is an opportunity.  The Wii can't run 360 games, but it does have a set of games that take advantage of its hardware that can't run on the 360.  ebooks coming from publishers wont replace traditional books, but a company that creates reading product that targets tablets first and physical books second will come to dominate ebooks.

Look around at the tools and products that you use.  What is their primary platform?  Is that your platform?

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