The Impact of Changes in Platform-level Practices on App Update Performance in the Platform-based Software Ecosystem

Project: Research

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Major software companies such as Apple and Firefox have adopted the platform-based models, that allow third-party developers to contribute applications (apps) for platforms (e.g. web-browser platforms). To meet the ever-evolving needs of customers and to stay competitive, platforms need to renovate itself (e.g., by updating platform application programming interface (API) or by changing platform release process) while at the same time expecting its apps to update in response to the platform changes [1, 51]. However, it is not clear if apps would update in time and on quality in response to these changes in platform-level practices as implicitly expected by the platform operator. Very few studies have examined the potential impact of these changes on app update performance. This project (with two research objectives noted below) aims to fill this void by explaining app update performance in terms of update responsiveness, frequency, size, and quality.The first objective is to investigate the extent to which changes in platform-level practices (i.e., platform API and platform release process) influence app update performance. The provision of platform APIs at different levels, as a technical practice, grants access to apps for integration [26, 57]. The platform release process as a policy practice regulates the way platform releases the new versions [29]. As noted, the changes in platform-level practices can only be seen as successful moves to strengthen competitiveness when apps are updated timely and of high quality. Little prior studies have understood and explored this key issue. Hence, drawn on boundary resource perspective [20,21], we theorize the effect of these platform changes on app update performance by conceptualizing platform API as a technical boundary resource and platform release process as a social boundary resource.The second objective is to investigate the contingent roles of app-level situational characteristics in altering the relationships between the changes in the platform-level practices and app update performance. We posit that the relationship examined in the first objective could vary by apps. Based on developer engagement logics in software ecosystems [39], we discuss the moderating roles of two logics, i.e., developer professional identity in the software profession field and market incentives in the software market field, which are manifested as open source identity and market intensity respectively. The boundary resource perspective is extended on the premise that the effectiveness of platform-level practices as boundary resources should depend on how developers are motivated to respond to platform changes in consideration of their platform engagement logics.We plan to empirically test our research model by collecting panel datasets from two software platforms, i.e., Firefox and Google. 


Project number9043076
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/08/21