What is the impact of interoperability on innovation?

Interoperability of digital services can stimulate innovation by allowing new operators to enter markets such as social media and messaging services. This in turn creates an incentive for all operators to innovate and provide new features. Currently, large online platforms such as Facebook or Youtube can rely on the sheer size of their existing user base to keep their users (so-called network effects) without having to compete on the merits of their products and services.

While interoperability requires the establishment of common standards and basic sets of functionalities, it does not prevent companies from introducing innovative features on top of them, without having to ask for permission. In fact, the internet’s principle makes standards follow independent innovation. In many of today’s platform applications past innovation needs to be standardised to ensure access and competition.