Principles that Matter: Sustaining Software Innovation from the Client to the Web

24 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2009

See all articles by Marco Iansiti

Marco Iansiti

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: June 15, 2009


Economic analysis often reviews the role of principles - such as respect for intellectual property rights - in driving innovation. Given the interdependent nature of innovation in information technology, three core principles have emerged that work together to ensure that complementary, interconnected products coexist and compete. These core principles are particularly important when applied to platforms, which have played a central role in enabling the development and distribution of the variety of applications and services that drive the popularity of software. The first principle focuses on enabling choice: firms should allow consumers and partners to have a real choice between complementary products and services from otherwise competing firms (e.g., a browser should enable a consumer to choose a home page provided by a competitor). The second principle focuses on opportunity: specifically, opportunity that is facilitated by giving developers platform access and the ability to innovate and build on platform technologies to create new products and services. The third principle focuses on interoperability: vendors should enable products to work together so customers can realize the full benefit of complementary products offered by competing vendors. Following this principle enables products to connect to each other in appropriately defined ways, and ensures that users can port their data between products securely and reliably. This paper reviews the rationale for these principles and examines their impact on competition in the cloud computing (“internet software”) environment.

Suggested Citation

Iansiti, Marco, Principles that Matter: Sustaining Software Innovation from the Client to the Web (June 15, 2009). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 09-142, Available at SSRN: or

Marco Iansiti (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics