Platform politics: Software as strategy in Apple’s platform ecosystem

  • Cole Stratton Indiana University
Keywords: platform ecosystem, open source, Apple, Swift, labor

Abstract

In the past 10 years platform ecosystems have come to play a significant role in many aspects of human societies, bringing with them certain logics and practices that structure how people live and work. Operating such a platform ecosystem gives rise to certain strategies for creating and managing a distributed labor force that is not directly controlled by the platform owner. This paper explores some of those strategies by investigating Swift, a programming language created by Apple to facilitate third-party software development for its platform ecosystem. Through the story of its emergence and evolution I show how Apple wields Swift as a managerial tool and as a competitive weapon to maintain the generative potential of its platform ecosystem and to evolve it in profitable ways. In so doing this paper foregrounds the internal dynamics of software platforms and helps us better understand some of the politics at play in the constitution of everyday technologies.

Published
2020-01-27
How to Cite
Stratton, C. (2020). Platform politics: Software as strategy in Apple’s platform ecosystem. First Monday, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i2.9948