I have been having an interesting discussion with friends on the future of various businesses. One topic that we keep hitting on is the idea a company providing a product vice providing a platform. A company that provides a product is the traditional corporate model. Some market research is done, a product is designed, and pushed to the public. You purchase the product and use it. Sometimes you may call customer support for help. This is Business 1.0 and frankly it is out-of-date, especially for technology and journalism organizations. The future, or Business 2.0 is all about the platform. The difference occurs from the very beginning. Instead of building a product and then controlling it forever in facets of product maturation and support; you need to build platform and then unleash to the world. Now here is the real hard part. Not only to you have to build a social community of die hard users; you need to encourage the creation of a community that performs technical support, consulting, and development for your platform. You can’t let yourself build walled garden to control over your product. To use the words of Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational”, you need to rely on building a social relation versus a market relation that is built solely on supply and demand; and perceived value. You need to become friends and partners with your customers and those who grow new functions and tools upon your platform. This is how companies will be successful in the future. The underlying fundamental shift is that cutsomers are no longer mere consumers, they must be thought of as producers as well. The music and movie industry are having the hardest time figuring this out. How many times have you made a great slideshow or movie and the perfect soundtrack is the latest song from your favorite artist. You legally purchase the song from iTunes and then add as a background music to your video. You then post that video on YouTube, under the perfectly legal fair use provisions of copyright law; and then days later you get a DMCA takedown notice! The music industry fails to realize they just shut down free advertising for that artist and song because chances are your friends would have heard the song, associated it with the memory of the events in the video, and would have gone and bought the song from iTunes as well. Those that succeed in the 21st century will realize that customers are producers and no longer consumers.