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One-Way Essential Complements

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  • Chen, M. Keith

    (Yale U)

  • Nalebuff, Barry

Abstract

While competition between firms producing substitutes is well understood, less is known about rivalry between complementors. We study the interaction between firms in markets with one-way essential complements. One good is essential to the use of the other but not vice versa, as arises with an operating system and applications. Our interest is in the division of surplus between the two goods and the related incentive for firms to create complements to an essential good. Formally, we study a two-good model where consumers value A alone, but can only enjoy B if they also purchase A. When one firm sells A and another sells B, the firm that sells B earns a majority of the value it creates. However, if the A firm were to buy the B firm, it would optimaly charge zero for B, provided marginal costs are zero and the average value of B is small relative to A. Hence, absent strong antitrust or intellectual property protections, the A firm can leverage its monopoly into B costlessly by producing a competing version of B and giving it away. For example, Microsoft provided Internet Explorer as a free substitute for Netscape; in our model, this maximizes Microsoft's joint monopoly profits. Furthermore, Microsoft has no incentive to raise prices, even if al browser competition exits. This may seem surprising since it runs counter to the traditional gains from price discrimination and versioning. We also show that an essential monopolist has no incentive to degrade rival complementary products, which suggests that a monopoly internet service provider will offer net neutrality. There are other means for the essential A monopolist to capture surplus from B. We consider the incentive to add a surcharge (or subsidy) to the price of B, or to act as a Stackelberg leader. We find a small gain from pricing first, but much greater profits from adding a surcharge to the price of B. The potential for A to capture B's surplus highlights the challenges facing a firm whose product depends on an essential good.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 22.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:22

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  1. repec:att:wimass:9508 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Joseph Farrell & Michael L. Katz, 2001. "Innovation, Rent Extraction, and Integration in Systems Markets," Industrial Organization 0012001, EconWPA.
  3. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John & Whinston, Michael D, 1989. "Multiproduct Monopoly, Commodity Bundling, and Correlation of Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 371-83, May.
  4. Michael D. Whinston, 1989. "Tying, Foreclosure, and Exclusion," NBER Working Papers 2995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hugo Sonnenschein, 1968. "The Dual of Duopoly Is Complementary Monopoly: or, Two of Cournot's Theories Are One," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 316.
  6. Raymond J. Deneckere & R. Preston McAfee, 1996. "Damaged Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 149-174, 06.
  7. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Barry Nalebuff & David B. Yoffie, 2007. "Competing Complements," Working Papers 07-44, NET Institute, revised Nov 2007.
  8. Adams, William James & Yellen, Janet L, 1976. "Commodity Bundling and the Burden of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 475-98, August.
  9. Barry Nalebuff, 2000. "Competing Against Bundles," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm157, Yale School of Management.
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Cited by:
  1. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Gastón Llanes, 2011. "Mixed Source," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1212-1230, July.
  2. Vladimir I. Soloviev & Natalia A. Iliina & Marina V. Samoyavcheva, 2009. "Cournot Equilibrium In A Model Of Hardware And Software Manufacturers’ Interaction," Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica, Faculty of Sciences, "1 Decembrie 1918" University, Alba Iulia, vol. 1(11), pages 4.
  3. Economides, Nicholas & Tåg, Joacim, 2012. "Network neutrality on the Internet: A two-sided market analysis," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 91-104.
  4. Nicholas Economides & Joacim Tag, 2011. "Network Neutrality and Network Management Regulation: Quality of Service, Price Discrimination, and Exclusive Contracts," Working Papers 11-09, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Laura Nurski, 2012. "Net Neutrality, Foreclosure and the Fast Lane: An empirical study of the UK," Working Papers 12-13, NET Institute.
  6. Lleras, Juan S. & Miller, Nathan H., 2011. "The entry incentives of complementary producers: A simple model with implications for antitrust policy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 147-150, February.
  7. Matteo Alvisi & Emanuela Carbonara & Francesco Parisi, 2011. "Separating complements: the effects of competition and quality leadership," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 103(2), pages 107-131, June.

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