We live in ecosystems
The original highly biologically characterized definition is meanwhile modified. The term of ecosystem is used for a multitude of environments we live in and we interact with. There are i.e. information-communication ecosystems where people get and discuss informations..
So the news aggregator netvibes calls the ‘Dashboard Widget Directory’ with its widgets to be integrated in netvibes as well as in Mac OS X, Google and Windows Vista a ‘ecosystem‘.
Here are some statistical widgets of netvibes’ ecosystem:
Statistics Spain, Census Bureau population estimates, Statistics Switzerland widget and netvibes universe.
Others are building ecosystems where people can get their software applications for specific platforms – be it for desktop or tablets or mobile phones. Apple opened its app store for mobile devices some time ago and for personal computers in January, Google did the same for Chrome and even the Windows platform has its app store (who knows this?).
Some say there’s a ‘war of ecosystems’. CEO Elop of Nokia expressed this clearly and dramatically before announcing the collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft:
“The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.”
(Is Nokia burning? The internal memo from Stephen Elop to all Nokia’s employees. 9.2.2011)
Challenge for Content Providers
So why could all this be of importance for content providers like newspapers or statistical offices?
It’ s important because the paths to reach the customers and information seekers are dramatically changing. And there are not only platform-oriented ecosystems which are in (commercial) war and are trying to convince people to follow them. There are also application-based ecosystems like facebook running on all platforms which try to attract and to bind people.
Some time ago a browser-based information accessible on all platforms was the only and sufficient solution. Diversity in offers was necessary to fit the needs of diverse user categories (like ‘tourists, farmers and miners’), reaching from storytelling with text and visualisations up to databases and access via api or web sevices.
Now in times of apps running outside browsers the question is a bigger one: In which ecosystem(s) with what kind of apps should we be active in order to be seen and to deliver the information people should know