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Home arrow Geography arrow The Internet as a Technology-Based Ecosystem: A New Approach to the Analysis of Business, Markets and Industries

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Planktotrophic and Lecithotrophic Development Methods

Open innovation can also be applied to marine organisms. This occurs where a larval stage involves the release of large numbers of larvae into the water column (‘free-swimming’) and where the larvae develop and grow for a certain period of time before metamorphosing into adults (finished products). During their time in the water column, planktotrophic larvae feed on small Zooplankton, including other larvae. Planktotrophic development is the most common type of larval development (Lutz et al. 1984), especially among benthic (deep sea) invertebrates such as tubeworms (Internet-based firms). The parasitic process of feeding off other organisms and larvae can be compared to the process of user-generated content and open-source software development, both of which draw on data and ideas from a diverse range of organisms. The development of network effects as new Internet platforms begin to scale-up is another example. The development of eBay, Wikipedia, Facebook and YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are all examples of products and companies created through this process of plankto- trophic user-generated content. Linux and Android software are two further examples of products created by and reliant upon planktotrophic open- source development methods. This is comparable to the concept of coevolution and co-production which is a key characteristic of James Moore’s (1996) business ecosystem concept.

An intermediate larval development method also exists, known as the lecithotrophic strategy. Although lecithotrophic larvae generally have greater dispersal potential than direct developers (Kim and Mullineaux 1998), they do not excel as planktotrophics do. Some HTV organisms have lecithotrophic larvae, which are provided with a source of nutrition during their dispersal, usually a yolk sack. Although some lecithotrophic species are capable of feeding in the water column, many are not i.e. they have to settle before they can exploit their food sources. consequently, these species have short larval durations and do not disperse over such long distances. This is a form of hybrid innovation where the firm (organism) will develop products within a protected environment (the yolk sack) but will also feed on an organisms/bacteria in the external environment (water column). This incorporates the closed in-house ‘not invented here’ approach with the ‘proudly found elsewhere’ open source method. Apple Corporation’s approach to product innovation (under Steve Jobs) was a good example of this. The company developed proprietary products in-house but they also frequently based new product development upon ideas from earlier unsuccessful product innovations by other companies (or extensions of existing innovations), for example, the personal computer and mobile computing devices. The Macintosh computer was largely based on components and technologies (GUI and the mouse) from Xerox PARC’s Alto personal computer that Xerox decided not to launch in the early 1970s. The iPod was a development of existing MP3 player technology, and the iPhone extended the functionality of the Blackberry. Apple’s tablet, meanwhile, built on earlier product failures such as Microsoft’s first tablet computer, the Pocket PC2000 (Arthur 2014). Hybrid innovation, therefore, feeds off data (bacteria/organisms) from an external competitive environment (the water column) yet remains highly protective of its own in-house product development (spawning).

Predation is a key factor affecting successful reproduction and dispersal. Where reproduction occurs at a specific time of the year rather than on a continuous basis, reproductive synchronisation can lead to mass spawning occurring at the same site. The vast numbers oflarvae and juveniles produced during mass spawning can overwhelm predators leading to ‘predator satiation’ (Giese and Kanatani 1987). This form of reproduction acts as a form of protection too. In deep-sea hydrothermal vents (HTVs), however, the organisms concerned have to seek protection from predation through dispersal rather than a sudden increase in biomass (Kim and Mullineaux 1998). In dynamic high technology ecosystems, speed to market is normally considered to be the most effective defense against predation through copying. This means rapid dissemination or dispersal of new products before competitors can catch-up. This fits the hydrothermal vent ecosystem (HTV) analogy of long dispersal distances for vent larvae and organisms across a broad range ofvent sites (Tyler and Young 2003). Successful dispersal and colonisation is the equivalent of successful new-market creation or product positioning within existing markets i.e. simultaneous global product launches.

 
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