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The Economics of Two-Sided Markets

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  • Marc Rysman

Abstract

Broadly speaking, a two-sided market is one in which 1) two sets of agents interact through an intermediary or platform, and 2) the decisions of each set of agents affects the outcomes of the other set of agents, typically through an externality. In the case of a video game system, for instance PlayStation, the intermediary is the console producer -- Sony -- while the two sets of agents are consumers and video game developers. Neither consumers nor game developers will be interested in the PlayStation if the other party is not. Similarly, a successful payment card requires both consumer usage and merchant acceptance, where both consumers and merchants value each others' participation. Many more products fit into this paradigm, such as search engines, newspapers, and almost any advertiser-supported media (examples in which consumers typically negatively value, rather than positively value, the participation of the other side), as well as most software or title-based operating systems and consumer electronics. This paper seeks to explain what two-sided markets are and why they interest economists. I discuss the strategies that firms typically consider, and I highlight a number of puzzling outcomes from the perspective of the economics of two-sided markets. Finally, I consider the implications for public policy, particularly antitrust and regulatory policy, where there have been a number of recent issues involving media, computer operating systems, and payment cards.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 125-43

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:23:y:2009:i:3:p:125-43

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.23.3.125
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  1. ANDERSON, Simon P. & GABSZEWICZ, Jean J., 2005. "The media and advertising : a tale of two-sided markets," CORE Discussion Papers 2005088, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Robin S. Lee, 2007. "Vertical Integration and Exclusivity in Two-Sided Markets," Working Papers 07-39, NET Institute, revised Aug 2012.
  3. Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2004. "Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet," NBER Working Papers 10570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Geoffrey G. Parker & Marshall W. Van Alstyne, 2005. "Two-Sided Network Effects: A Theory of Information Product Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(10), pages 1494-1504, October.
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  8. Damiano, Ettore & Li, Hao, 2005. "Competing Matchmaking," Microeconomics.ca working papers damiano-05-01-25-10-08-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 18 Oct 2005.
  9. Knittel, Christopher R. & Stango, Victor, 2005. "Incompatibility, Product Attributes and Consumer Welfare: Evidence from ATMs," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d42z9rh, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  10. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1992. "Network Effects, Software Provision, and Standardization," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 85-103, March.
  11. Howitt, Peter & Griffith, Rachel & Aghion, Philippe & Blundell, Richard & Bloom, Nick, 2005. "Competition and Innovation: An Inverted-U Relationship," Scholarly Articles 4481507, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Chou, Chien-fu & Shy, Oz, 1990. "Network effects without network externalities," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 259-270, June.
  13. Marc Rysman, 2004. "Competition Between Networks: A Study of the Market for Yellow Pages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 483-512.
  14. Angelique Augereau & Shane Greenstein & Marc Rysman, 2006. "Coordination versus differentiation in a standards war: 56K modems," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 887-909, December.
  15. Tobias Kretschmer & Katrin Muehlfeld, 2004. "Co-opetition in Standard-Setting: The Case of the Compact Disc," Working Papers 04-14, NET Institute, revised Oct 2004.
  16. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, Bruno, 2003. " Chicken & Egg: Competition among Intermediation Service Providers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 309-28, Summer.
  17. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Stuart E. Weiner & Julian Wright, 2005. "Interchange fees in various countries : developments and determinants," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue May, pages 5-49.
  19. Marc Rysman, 2006. "An Empirical Analysis of Payment Card Usage," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-002, Boston University - Department of Economics.
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  1. Payment Systems in India
    by paragwaknis in Musings of the Sorts on 2012-08-05 21:20:51
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