A couple of days back ReadWriteWeb announced the "Top 10 Web Platforms of 2008". I was trying to put together what it means to platform designers, and here's my 2c worth.
Lets quickly look at the list
Amazon Web Services
Here's my learning from the list :
The most important asset a platform can provide its users is to extend reach. The number one platform iPhone SDK will not run on all OS's, uses a rather atypical set of frameworks and languages and yet developers flocked to it. Three others in the top 5 - OpenSocial, Twitter, Facebook also allow the developers to plug into a set of existing relationships and networks and leverage them. If you want to write a platform, first and foremost see if you can extend your user's reach - if you can, your users will come flocking.
Cloud Experience :
The cloud is here. OpenSocial, Twitter, Facebook, AWS, LiveMesh, FireEagle and Mozilla Weave all contribute to the end user having a superior cloud experience. If you want to write a platform, ask yourself if it will make things easier for the user on the cloud.
Usability and RIA :
Usability still counts for a lot. Both iPhone and AdobeAIR help make it a far superior usable experience (I can't comment on Android yet). Moreover RIA on the desktop and mobile are still alive and kicking. If you take care of your user's users, your users will come knocking.