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An excellent summary, and gets right to the heart of the matter... accessibility. The Google system is seemingly accessible internally, by Googlers, to build and execute products like YouTube, Gmail, G+, etc. Is this internal accessibility via SOA or API; I do not know. Is there the same granularity of SOA or API exposed externally; post suggested little is exposed externally vs competition.
However, I still believe that the Google system is the platform upon which the stars are created. Do these stars themselves have equivalent accessibility externally (vs competition) to become platforms within themselves... do they all need high levels of developer API accessibility (YouTube?), when do the ones that do need it actually need it (Facebook didn't have it initially), will accessibility drive value (advertising, user base) or deplete resources (CPU time, fibre use) or create value elsewhere (another ad engine)? Android has been successful and is quite accessible to 3rd parties because it had to be (vs Apple originally), and IMHO G+ will probably take a leaf of out Facebook's eh book and become a platform accessible to 3rd parties. However, currently maybe Google is doing an Amazon with G+ and releasing early with later improvements (inc. 3rd party API's).
All in all, my outside of Google view is that Google gets platform, Google is the platform, it's their platform, and the public go to it in their droves, and quarterly reports have an upward trend!
3 years, 1 month ago on Google Engineer: "Google+ is a Prime Example of Our Complete Failure to Understand Platforms"
So am I... the computational resources (fibre, cloud, CPU's, etc) Google has at hand are IMHO top 10 in the world, which they use to primarily provide search that feeds the advertising engine. From this base they created Gmail, YouTube, G+ and they provide advertising opportunities. The Google system is the platform, the products are the stars.
... I meant "Google+ is a star within the constellation"
An interesting article, however I did a Corporate Strategy report as part of my MBA and I found that Google is the platform. In other words the combination of the base search engine, computational resources, talent pool, acquisitions, new product development, and so on makes up the constellation... Google+ is a start within the constellation of products and ideas. Full MBA report available freely @ http://bit.ly/oJxfhD