THE BLOG

Google... Jeans

06/01/2015 10:07 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2016

I love the way we use the word platform today.

In fact, according to Google the use of the word has skyrocketed over the years, particularly as it became a metaphor for developing ideas and products that shared some common core.

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What I love about the word platform is the visual imagery it calls to mind. People standing on some raised surface, rocket ships poised to launch, huge oil rigs in the ocean, the declared policy of a political party and the driver of the word's explosive growth in our lexicon -- the underlying hardware or software of a system. The platform defines a standard around which a system can be developed.

And there you have it.

The shared meaning between all the various definitions being a clearly defined place that allows for other activity to flourish from it -- make sense?

But let's be clear -- which, of course gives me the opportunity to stay message consistent with my other Rambles -- there have been many antecedents to computer platforms...

Every writable surface known to man is a platform for communication, from cave walls to stone tablets to parchment scrolls to papyrus to paper and e-paper and beyond.

The printing press was a platform that made movable type so powerful.

Broadcast wavelengths were platforms we created on and Microsoft became possibly the largest platform the world has ever seen as developers used the space to create ever new and better opportunities for the rest of us to take advantage of.

And Google and Apple too.

Why is this important?

Simple.

In our digibabble-infused environment, we often mistake applied technology for new technology; we tend to see everything that is new as never before seen or experienced, and we get mixed up between product and platform.

And, that is why I have so much respect for Levi's (yes, I wear 501 originals) and its recent exciting announcement with Google on their joint development of wearable tech.

Read some of the blogs and the posts and the articles -- lots on "wearables" and the cool tricks that will ensue -- like the Japanese wearable I saw where you transmit mood colors to your partner -- and to think in my day it was a mere ring.

However, there are those who haven't succumbed to the digibabble around this JV launch, most notably Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Innovation for the Levi's brand, who was clear in how he sees this innovation as quoted in Women's Wear Daily...

"Fundamentally, this is empowering the garment as a platform, not the garment as a device," he added, noting that, with today's events at Google's Mountain View, California, conference, the door is now open for application development... "This isn't a launch, it's a platforming opportunity. It becomes a home to new forms and applications that we haven't thought of yet... The potential is that the input is the gesture - crossing your legs, swiping, waving, lifting.

Personally, I found this announcement to be truly exciting as its meaning is only as limited as my imagination -- think medical, think workforce, think vacation, think beyond and above and below; think in the box, out of the box, and out of sight of the box; think big and think small....

And then?

Get the developer's kit.

Because when you think platform, there are no limits.

The lesson?

We need to stop declaring first-ever, one and only, never before seen....

We must debunk the idea of siloed product development and embrace the notion of broad and powerful platforms.

And we must really understand what is really a platform and what isn't. Listen:

Our goal is not to build a platform; it's to be cross all of them. Mark Zuckerberg

So keep your eyes open for Facebook appearing on your jeans at a Levi's store near you. And don't confuse platform and product.

What do you think?