A platform is a structure that allows multiple products to be built within the same technical framework. Companies invest in platforms in the hope that future products can be developed faster and cheaper than if they are built on standalone machines.
Today it’s more important to think of a platform as a business framework that allows multiple business frameworks to be built and supported. For instance, amazon is an online retail framework that started by selling books and over the time; they have expanded to selling all sorts of other things including business software. Apple iTunes started by selling music tracks and are now using the same framework to sell videos.
A platform serves no direct purpose to end users but it does provide infrastructure for one or more applications which do serve as a direct purpose to the end user. Facebook is also an example of a platform though it started as a social networking site and though continuous growth and invention, it has expanded its efficiency to include business and marketing sites, instant messaging groups, blogs advertising and consumer data mining.
In general it’s important to remember that a platform is a business model but not just a piece of technology. A lot of people mistake a platform with a mobile app or a website but a platform isn’t just a piece of software but a holistic business model that creates value by bringing consumers and producers together.
When purchasing a business software. It is important to know what platform the software was written for because some softwares are platform specific meaning that the developer have expensively developed their application program to run on one platform i.e. either windows or mac Softwares can also be platform organismic which means the software is designed to run on any combination of operating system and processor architecture. Software developers who want to see how their codes behave on different platforms may use a type of cloud computing platform as a service where the cloud providers hosts different combination of hardware or software platform.