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Standards, Protocols, and Platforms
Standards are often protocols, and protocols breed platforms. Startups often chase standards setting as a way to achieve platform status.
I came across an interesting article on standards/platforms by Michael Mignano, The Standards Innovation Paradox (and a rebuttal The Standards Innovation Paradox: is it real?). I don't feel as strongly as the authors do about RSS, although I've collected my thoughts on RSS.
Technical standards and protocols are not that generalizable. There's a significant difference between a standard far down the stack (e.g., TCP/IP) and something further up the stack like the Matrix Protocol for decentralized messaging. But a few thoughts.
Standards are slow-moving by design. This is because the more users a standard supports, the slow it must move.
Infrastructure platforms that aren't extensible enough will see themselves become standards, whether as an implementation-turned-standard or as something new. For example, many of Docker's behaviors later became container standards (e.g., image format, registry protocol, runtime).
Historically, the successful corporate approach to standards has been the Embrace/Extend/Extinguish playbook.
Startups chasing standards will usually find it challenging to monetize directly. Instead, using them to commoditize your complement (standards create commodity products) is generally more strategic.
Popular formats like PDF and DOCX were proprietary for decades.
Backward compatibility is a stopgap for non-standards to create long-lasting trust.