YellowBox - or: how to infiltrate a platform.

in Mac Software edited January 2014
There have been a couple of rumors about a yellowbox project or virtualization technology for Leopard. That made me think a bit about the strategic game called "platform war", where two incompatible system lock-ins compete.

Bear with me for this thinking:

If you have Windows and Mac, competing, both closed proprietary systems requiring a special effort to develop software, eventually one will gain the upper hand. With the upper hand you have: more users, resulting in more developers, resulting in more applications, resulting in more users...

This self-reinforcing cycle quickly leads to a very strong growth in one platform that kills-off the other one. This is exactly what happened between Windows and Mac.

Apple survived, because it was able to retain a very stable, loyal share of the market and keep it. But how can you gain market share in this uphill battle?

You can become compatible!

Now there are two options, and this is tricky:

The obvious solution would be making your platform run the other ones applications, and boom, you have full access to the entire applications market, while the competing platform only got its "native" apps. But that thinking is short-sighted. Once you are compatible a developer can choose to: a) develop for your smaller-share platform. b) develop for the competing platform, which runs on 100% of the marktets system. Hm. Easy choice.

So you have to be a bit more tricky than that: You make your competitor compatible with you! By releasing a software, that would allow Mac applications to run on Windows, suddenly the Mac platform is the one which will give a developer access to 100% of the markets system. What a move!

That's not saying, that such a move alone will always work. There are lots of other factors when choosing a development platform, and you have to expect your oponent to retaliate by doing the same.

Please also note how very different this is from licencing OS X to PC makers or getting Windows to run on a Mac. These steps do not change the attributes of the platform used, and thus have little practical relevance for the platform game.

I like the trickiness of it so much, that I really buy into these rumours about Yellowbox coming up. I would also expect Microsoft to be too slow for an effective retaliation.

I like IT... so many interesting strategies can be played cause it's so freaking complex! Check out my post on the iPhone strategic possibilities for more crazy ideas like this.


  • Reply 1 of 2
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    Welcome to 1998!

    Link To Image was nuked so click here to see it.

    Yellowbox is not a rumor it WAS a fact but Apple chose to kill it. Why? Well conspiracy theorists have it on good authority that Bill Gates was going to cancel Mac MS Office if Apple didn't...

    Do I believe it? As much as I'd love to.... not really... the fact is I don't think Bill (or Microsoft) would have cared less about yellowbox.

  • Reply 2 of 2
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,773member
    The Yellow Box thing was a way to get developers to build apps for the Mac first, by making the code easily portable to the much larger Windows market.

    I'm not a programmer, so I have absolutely no idea if Xcode is moving things in this direction.

    My guess would be that any virtualized PC solution from Apple would allow apps created in Xcode to run on Windows, though not necessarily using the Windows GUI.

    Think of the way X11 apps work on the Mac.
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