Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

An Assessment of Mobile OS-Centric Ecosystems

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

An Assessment of Mobile OS-Centric Ecosystems

Article excerpt


The evolution of software ecosystems is the result of the popularity and adoption of common architectural development for multiple product development and represents a significant shift in traditional software development style and process methodology. Currently several organizations are in practice with this new process model that embraces business as one of its central factors and have thrived as a result. There can be no doubt that the development of software ecosystems have caused major players in the software industry to rethink their operating practices and engage with third parties, opening their platforms to external entities to attain business objectives. In this paper we examine four of the organizations that are at the forefront of software ecosystem adoption, specifically for mobile devices and explore their business development models. This investigation explores and compares their business process models in terms of how they engage with the external players in order to develop and distribute software and services in this changing marketplace. The study found some commonalities as well as some salient differences in their business processes and presents an assessment of the health of each mobile OS-centric ecosystem. We conclude that this study will help in further aiding understanding of the business process role in this area of ecosystem software.

Keywords: Ecosystems, Software development, Software business model, Mobile devices, Mobile operating systems

1 Introduction

The domain of software ecosystems is still in its infancy and as a result a number of definitions of what exactly constitutes an ecosystem exist. In its most fundamental sense, a software ecosystem (SECO) is a system within which the traditional walls between development entities have been broken down allowing collaboration and interoperability between parties. The pioneers of SECOs seem to agree that the essential elements of such SECOs are an informal network through which independent entities collaborate to produce software and services for a common market. Bosch [5] focuses on the organizational aspects of SECOs and the relationship between these corporations in providing software and services, while Kittlaus and Clough [20] are narrower in their definition, stating that a SECO is an informal network of legally independent units that have a positive influence on the economic success of a software product. Jansen et al [18] define a SECO as a set of actors functioning as a unit and interacting with a shared market for software and services, together with the relationships among them. They further note that these relationships are commonly founded on a common technological architecture or market space and operate through the exchange of information, resources and artifacts [19]. We suggest that these definitions are all in fact accurate and rather than being contradictory, they demonstrate the growing maturity in understanding of SECOs and their rapid expansion over the past number of years. As a result we refine the definition of a software ecosystem as, a cluster of actors (individuals or organizations) employed in the development of services or software for a common market and sharing a common technological framework. Bosch also presents a Software Ecosystem Taxonomy, examining the development of SECO across three broad platforms, desktop, web and mobile [5]. The focus of this study is on the mobile deployment of software ecosystems and as a result we class this paper as being mobile OS-centric. In this paper we examine the use of software ecosystems by four software industry leaders in the mobile OS-centric market: Apple, Google, BlackBerry and Nokia, and examine the business model which has been employed by each when embracing this new style of software development and marketing.

1.1 Transition to Ecosystems

We would argue that the development of SECOs is a logical next step for such software development organizations following on from the adoption of the Software Product Lines approach in software architecture design. …

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