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Switching Costs, Consumers' Heterogeneity and Price Discrimination in the Mobile Communications Industry

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  • Nicoletta Corrocher

    (CESPRI, Università Bocconi, Milano)

  • Lorenzo Zirulia

    (CESPRI, Università Bocconi, Milano)

Abstract

In this paper we develop a formal model that captures some basic features of competition in the mobile communications service industry. In a model of oligopolistic competition with price discrimination and switching costs, we study the role of firms’ installed base of consumers in providing the incentives to offer contracts for a new class of consumers with a lower willingness to pay. The model predicts that there exists an inverse relationship between the share of the leader in the market of consumers with high willingness to pay and its share in the market of consumers with low willingness to pay. This implies that market shares converge. If firms collude in the introduction of new contracts, convergence is milder. This result is consistent with the empirical evidence related to the mobile communications industry in different European countries, where we observe a convergence in market shares driven by the superior ability of followers to acquire new customers, who typically have lower willingness to pay as compared with early adopters.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series KITeS Working Papers with number 166.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision: May 2005
Handle: RePEc:cri:cespri:wp166

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Related research

Keywords: Switching costs; Price discrimination; Mobile communications;

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  1. Beggs, Alan & Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "Multi-Period Competition with Switching Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 436, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Klemperer, Paul, 1989. "Price Wars Caused by Switching Costs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 405-20, July.
  3. Paul Klemperer & Joseph Farrell, 2006. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Stole, Lars A., 2007. "Price Discrimination and Competition," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
  5. Valletti, Tommaso M., 2000. "Price discrimination and price dispersion in a duopoly," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 351-374, December.
  6. Greg Shaffer & Z. John Zhang, 2000. "Pay to Switch or Pay to Stay: Preference-Based Price Discrimination in Markets with Switching Costs," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 397-424, 06.
  7. Stole, Lars A, 1995. "Nonlinear Pricing and Oligopoly," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 529-62, Winter.
  8. Valletti, Tommaso M & Cave, Martin, 1998. "Competition in UK mobile communications," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 109-131, March.
  9. Gabrielsen, Tommy Staahl & Vagstad, Steinar, 2003. "Consumer heterogeneity, incomplete information and pricing in a duopoly with switching costs," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 384-401, September.
  10. Tommaso Valletti, 2003. "Is Mobile Telephony a Natural Oligopoly?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 47-65, February.
  11. Valletti, Tommaso M., 1999. "A model of competition in mobile communications," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 61-72, March.
  12. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1987. "Understanding Rent Dissipation: On the Use of Game Theory in Industrial Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 176-83, May.
  13. Armstrong, Mark, 2006. "Price discrimination," MPRA Paper 4693, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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