Not many years ago, as recent as the late 1990’s, the most commonly used architecture that was prevalent on the web was application based. Many developers including e-businesses focused themselves on developing standalone web applications to suit their business needs and purposes. This was at a time when applications weren’t as complex in functionality and features as they are today. Then, as technology and business requirements both grew more and more complex, we started to see an increase in the number of applications being used by any particular business or web developer. The problem that surfaced was interconnectivity between these applications was often anything but easy. There was no standard way for any number of applications to communicate with each other. This is essentially when the web platforms came in. Platforms made it easier for a company to build an extensible set of applications all based on the one platform. This allowed for easier management, scalability and more recently, being able to take advantage of 3rd party developers through offering public Application Programming Interfaces (API’s).
One of the most recent examples of such a platform is Google’s Android Operating System for smart phones. Android was unveiled Q4 2007. This platform is similar to Apple’s iPhone platform for mobile phones, with the key difference being that Android is Open source and iPhone is not.
One of the ways in which Google has used Android as a platform is by integrating other Google applications into it. These include Google Maps, Google Mail, Google Voice and Google Translate. As previously mentioned, interconnecting applications is one of the key benefits a common platform provides.
Apart from Google services, Android is also open to a variety of 3rd party Applications developed using Android Software Development Kit (SDK) which includes debuggers, emulators, sample code and documentation, and also an extensive set of API’s.
As of March 2010, there are over 30,000 applications in existence for the Android Operating System. These can be accessed and downloaded via the Android Market, a similar concept to the iPhone App Store.
All in all I think that focus on Platform as opposed to Applications will be the future of software and services development not just for the web or for mobile devices. The paradigm shift has already taken place widely with the onset of “web 2.0”.