Art of Message

Art of Message – June 10, 2023

OpenAI’s platform strategy doesn’t involve ChatGPT plugins

Yesterday, we looked at Sam Altman’s “no-product-market-fit” comments on ChatGPT plugins.

Let me de-jargonize that discussion: his idea was that ChatGPT users don’t use plugins because they don’t like them. Whereas my suspicion is that people do like plugins, but if they don’t use them, it’s because they make it harder to use ChatGPT.

Maybe there’s a design solution to that problem.

But there’s a bigger takeaway: OpenAI wants to be a platform for software makers – not a software maker itself.

It’s entirely possible or likely that people at OpenAI know very well they could figure out how to make plugins much more useful. But the bigger point is that maybe this doesn’t fit the overall corporate strategy.

He actually made this point directly: OpenAI will avoid competing with their customers — other than with ChatGPT”.

He coupled assertion with this observation: “a lot of people thought they wanted their apps to be inside ChatGPT but what they really wanted was ChatGPT in their apps”

The latter part, at least, is true. And how will OpenAI further that goal?

He offered a product roadmap for 2023:

  • cheaper and faster GPT-4
  • longer context windows (even up to a million, though that seems doubtful)
  • easier fine-tuning API, per community feedback
  • stateful API (conversation memory)

With the possible exception of faster GPT-4, these are meaningless to most ChatGPT users. They’re designed to help developers make better generative AI products.

Of course, there are no guarantees. And if developers decide what they really want is a plugin-economy app store, I’m sure OpenAI would accommodate them.

But it looks like standalone generative AI products won’t face direct competition from OpenAI anytime soon – they want to be the platform.

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