As Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute noted in a recent report about “scale and innovation”, today’s digital economy favors large companies because growth depends to the establishment of ecosystems built around operating systems like Android or iPhone. But it’s not just large new media companies like Google and Apple that can benefit from these large ecosystems; older, more established media and technology companies like Verizon, Pearson, Comcast, Time Warner and AT&T also have this same advantage over smaller start-ups to radically innovate through their extensive ecosystems.
The innovative strength of AT&T ecosystem was demonstrated earlier this week at CES during their Hackathon – an event that attracted over 150 developers to create apps built on the AT&T mobile network. The three Hackathon finalists, who I interviewed after the results were announced, including the ultimate winner Active X-Ray which deployed the mobile network’s mHealth API to create an injury evaluation mobile app, off AT&T’s mHealth platform. But AT&T’s ecosystem goes beyond the security and richness of their APIs. Not only did the two San Diego based developers behind Active X-Ray win $20,000, but they also won the opportunity to build out their app at the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, one of the new innovation centers that they have opened to enable developers and entrepreneurs to partner in the AT&T ecosystem.