Yesterday’s quiz was can you see the pattern here
Here you can buy 8-12 frogs legs. Here you can buy some sausages. You can get a thousand kinds of stamps over here. Need supplies for your revenge fantasies? Or maybe your ears are cold?
These all small online store running an open source software package called osCommerce.
If you search for “Powered by osCommerce” you get some very very impressive page counts; four and a half million pages at Google, eleven million pages at AllTheWeb. The real fun begins if you add niche products that your curious about. Sausage for example and you can get your safety sausage or your pewter sausage chain.
I wandered upon osCommerce because I was kicking the tires on Paypals’ developer network. Developer networks are a tool firms use to encourage a network of complementary products to appear around thier offering. There I came upon their list of this list of around 200 shopping cart or store fronts. Nice little example of a long tail. If you look at the other larger payment solutions you’ll see a similar list; for example at authorize net.
This illustration shows this business scheme. The payment companies, people like Paypal and Authorize Net, want a lot of shops to integrate with them. So they offer a developer network to attract the vendors who serve shop owners. Those vendors, the guys that make shopping cart solutions, join the developer network and use it’s services to integrate their offerings with those of the payment company. The more successful the developer network becomes the more this drawing begins to look just like the drawing that describes an exchange standard.
Which is probably because from an appropriate distance they are the same drawing. The work that a developer network does as it campaigns to attract developer members, get them to sign up, integrate, and succeed is identical to the work a standards body ought to do as it campaigns to drive adoption of it’s offering. Both the standards body and the developer network are attempting to define a platform (represented in these drawings by the line below the exchange or integration).
When I look at a group (a business, a project, etc.) one of the things I look for is how rich their set of connections is, their complements. One way to look for that is to find their developer network. Another way is to look at their customers. osCommerce is amazing because of the diversity of the store owners that use them.
I have long wondered what the business model behind osc was, now I feel a little enlightened at least!
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