A guy I know in the NY Tech scene asked me for advice on his new application and the market for it. It occurred to me that he's built a great utility that could be used for many different purposes. You might say he's built a platform in a particular category that makes it easy for just about anyone to launch a service in this medium.
He hasn't given me the go ahead to mention his company...that's why I'm being opaque.
Point is: Being a platform (think: Twitter, Blogger, YouTube) is a formidable goal, however, it's hard to accomplish and doesn't succeed as often as niche plays. The target market needs to understand what they can do with the service. Remember, people don't want tools; they want what the tools can do for them. (Reminds me of the expression: People don't want drills, they want the hole it makes.) Defining the target market for people makes it easier for them to understand the fit. For instance, don't just say it's a communications platform; tell us that it's an innovative way for teachers to communicate with student. Cater to a niche.
Finding the niche market and succeeding in it is easier. And if need be, the same underlying technology can be applied to other niches later.
It reminds me of the expression, "Jack of all trades, master of none." When you're trying to solve a problem, you want an expert, not a generalist. The same holds true for products (IOW, people want the right tool for the job).