1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Open Platforms vs Closed Platforms – Definition

Open Platforms vs Closed Platforms – Definition

Open Platforms Vs. Closed Platforms Definition

In the world of software computing, an Open Platform is a software program that has provision for open application programming interfaces (API), or flexible scope to use the software for purposes other than as it was intended, or has an open source code that can be edited by users to tailor it to their needs, or allows free adoptability – usage without going through official channels, or adaptability – editing functionality of specific features. Incorporating any of the five factors stated above, makes a software program an Open Platform. Softwares that do not have any such provisions are called Closed Platforms.

A Little More on What is Open and Closed Platforms

While all Open Source platforms are Open Platforms, not all Open Platforms are Open Source. For example, Fission is an Open Source platform that allows users to write short duration functions in a programming language of their choice. An Open Platform can be made up of components that are open as well as closed. For example, Microsoft Windows has an Open API, and unlimited scope flexibility, yet its source code is Closed and proprietary.

An Open Platform vendor allows for certain components of its software to be edited, modified, and adapted to different functionalities. This allows for innovative use of software applications – the kind not envisioned by the developer yet arrived at by the users. Open standards that are publicly available is the way to offer non proprietary components within an Open Platform. These are softwares that allow public access to the building blocks of applications.

While most Operating System platforms in the recent past have been Closed, plenty of mobile OS platforms still remain Open

A lot of OS have App Stores that allow installation of external applications. This is also called “sideloading”. OS platforms that do not allow such installations are protected by DMCA regulations and jailbreaking such platforms to install external apps is considered illegal. With the exception of mobile devices, jailbreaking is a crime on most devices with limited scope and Closed Platforms.

Windows: An Open and a Closed Platform

Microsoft Windows happens to be a unique case of an Open as well as a Closed Platform. While users are free to install any and all software applications on a Windows desktop on an intel device, without any negative repercussions, the same cannot be said of Windows on ARM. Windows RT, as it is known is the same software but a closed platform with limited installation permissions. Only products developed by Microsoft can be installed on these devices.

Apple Mac OS X: Open Platform

While the Mac OS X by Apple exercises a lot of restrictions on the App Store, developers are allowed to distribute apps by side-stepping the App Store. Unlike the iOS, Mac OS allows app installations outside of the App Store, users aren’t restricted in downloading softwares from external platforms.

References for Open Platforms Vs. Closed Platforms

Academic Research on Open Platforms Vs. Closed Platforms

Cloud computing and SaaS as new computing platforms, Cusumano, M. (2010). Communications of the ACM, 53(4), 27-29. This paper takes a look at cloud computing apps and SaaS to highlight emerging technologies and the need for software platforms to be more Open.

Opening platforms: how, when and why?, Eisenmann, T. R., Parker, G., & Van Alstyne, M. (2009). Platforms, markets and innovation, 131-162. This paper takes a look at Opening Software Platforms, examines the reasons behind them, puzzles out the hows, whys, and whens.

Open versus closed platforms, Tåg, J. (2008). This paper takes a critical look at both Open and Closed Platforms and presents arguments both in favour of and against these concepts.

A comparison of open and closed mobile platforms, Cho, H. Y., Nam, C. S., & Shin, D. R. (2010, August). In Electronics and Information Engineering (ICEIE), 2010 International Conference On (Vol. 2, pp. V2-141). IEEE. This paper compares and contrasts the differences between Open and Closed Platforms on mobile devices.

The Copyright Misuse Doctrine’s Role in Open and Closed Technology Platforms, Herrell, J. P. (2011). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 26(1), 441-490. This paper considers the pros and cons of Open and Closed Platforms in light of the Copyrights Misuse Doctrine.

Open design platforms for open source product development: current state and requirements, Bonvoisin, J., & Boujut, J. F. (2015, July). In Proceedings of the 20th international conference on engineering design (ICED 15), 8—Innovation and Creativity, 11–22. Milan, Italy. This paper takes a look at the current state of the Open Source and Open Platform scenario in the software industry and presents the requirements to address concerns.

Closed or open innovation? Problem solving and the governance choice, Felin, T., & Zenger, T. R. (2014). Research Policy, 43(5), 914-925. This paper tries to answer the question of the better way of software licensing, Closed or Open. It examines the impact of these governance choices on innovation.

The disruptive effect of open platforms on markets for wireless services, Lahiri, A., Dewan, R. M., & Freimer, M. (2010). Journal of management information systems, 27(3), 81-110. This paper studies the disruptive impact of Open Platforms on the wireless services market.

Open platform strategies and innovation: Granting access vs. devolving control, Boudreau, K. (2010). Management science, 56(10), 1849-1872. This paper sheds light on the dilemma of Open Platform strategies regarding the loss of control vs. granting access to expedite innovation.

Openness of Information Resources-A Framework-based Comparison of Mobile Platforms., Schlagwein, D., Schoder, D., & Fischbach, K. (2010). In ECIS (p. 163). This is a comparative study of software platforms on mobile devices within the framework of open information access.

Industry platforms and ecosystem innovation, Gawer, A., & Cusumano, M. A. (2014). Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31(3), 417-433. This journal looks at innovation and the factors governing it in light of different kinds of industry platforms in the software niche.

Was this article helpful?