It isn’t often that I come to an agreement with the contrarian nature of John C Dvorak, but in his latest rant from a couple of weeks ago, I do. John thinks– and I agree– that Facebook and Twitter are publishers and not platforms. What of Apple?
There are companies that want to be like Apple (Samsung, I’m looking at you) and do so by copying what Apple does. There are others which copy the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others which have user generated content vs. content generated by a publisher.
Dvorak on the term platform:
In the classic sense, and insofar as technology is concerned, a platform is (from the Oxford English Dictionary) “a standard for the hardware of a computer system, which determines what kinds of software it can run.”
Fair enough. The Mac is a platform because of macOS and proprietary hardware. Ditto for Windows, Chrome OS, Android, Linux, iOS and iPhone, et al.
For various legal and marketing reasons, the word platform has taken on all sorts of other meanings which boil down to “a neutral place we set up but are not responsible for anything that goes on there, but we keep the money.”
See a problem there? Facebook wants to be a platform and not a publisher because, as a publisher, Facebook would inherit all the requirements of a publisher, including editing (censorship) content to match the readers or viewers– and to keep the government at bay.
The Wall Street Journal is a publisher, not a platform. The New York Times, USA Today, and even CNN– are publishers, not platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online sites which publish user generated content are publishers, not platforms. The content may come from users, but those publishers edit (censor) some content, and have rules about posting, so they are publishers.
What about Apple? Is Apple a publisher? Or, does Apple merely create platforms?
If Apple is a publisher, whether content it creates or content by users, then where is it? It’s there, but you have to search to find it. Apple’s platforms– the Mac, iPhone, iPad– distribute content, including content from other publishers– CNN, InfoWars, Fox, USA Today, WSJ, NYT, and many others have applications that run on Apple’s platforms, but that alone does not make Apple a publisher.
Apple is a platform (thanks to Mac, iPhone, iPad).
Is Apple is a publisher? Or, a distributor? iTunes and iBooks come to mind as possibly both. Apple operates a store for content but also allows original content to be published on each. Apple exercises publisher-like controls for censorship over the content distributed on each– iTunes and iBooks– but some would argue that is merely a distribution system, not a publishing system.
Apple is not a publisher in the likes of NYT or WSJ, but also not in the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. At this juncture, I don’t see Apple as a publisher.