Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy

by Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker, and Sangeet Paul Choudary

BACK IN 2007 the five major mobile-phone manufacturers—Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and LG—collectively controlled 90% of the industry’s global profits. That year, Apple’s iPhone burst onto the scene and began gobbling up market share.

By 2015 the iPhone single-handedly generated 92% of global profits, while all but one of the former incumbents made no profit at all.

How can we explain the iPhone’s rapid domination of its industry? And how can we explain its competitors’ free fall? Nokia and the others had classic strategic advantages that should have protected them: strong product differentiation, trusted ...

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