The Paradoxes of Change and Control in Digital Infrastructures: The Mobile Operating Systems Case

David Tilson*, Carsten Sørensen, Kalle Lyytinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The advent of the smartphone as a highly complex technology has been accompanied by mobile operating systems, large communities of developers, diverse content providers, and increasingly complex networks, jointly forming digital infrastructures. The multi-faceted and relational character of such digital infrastructures raises issues around how change and control can be conceptualized and understood. We discuss how change and control are paradoxically related in digital infrastructures and how they affect the evolution of such infrastructures. We examine these paradoxes by examining the change in, and competition between, two mobile operating systems: Apple's iOS and Symbian along with their related platform features and ecologies. We seek to verify a previously proposed theoretical framework of the dynamics of change and control through second-order analysis of the two cases. We observe that multiple and small factors have had a significant effect on the evolution of these platforms including user interface, development platforms, business models, and related value extraction principles. We make several observations about the factors that affect the evolution of mobile platform ecologies and their significance as well as speculate about the future of operating system platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2011 10th International Conference on Mobile Business, ICMB 2011
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationLos Alamitos, CA
Publication date2011
Article number6047023
ISBN (Print)9780769544342
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event10th International Conference on Mobile Business. ICMB 2011 - Como, Italy
Duration: 20 Jun 201121 Jun 2011
Conference number: 10


Conference10th International Conference on Mobile Business. ICMB 2011
SeriesInternational Conference on Mobile Business. Proceedings


  • Apple
  • Digital infrastructures
  • IOS
  • Mobile operating system
  • Paradoxes of change and control
  • Symbian

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