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Two-sided competition of proprietary vs. open source technology platforms and the implications for the software industry

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Abstract

Technology platforms, such as Microsoft Windows, are the hubs of technology industries. We develop a framework to characterize the optimal two-sided pricing strategy of a platform firm, that is, the pricing strategy towards the direct users of the platform as well as towards firms offering applications that are complementary to the platform. We compare industry structures based on a proprietary platform (such as Windows) with those based on an open-source platform (such as Linux) and analyze the structure of competition and industry implications in terms of pricing, sales, profitability, and social welfare. We find that, when the platform is proprietary, the equilibrium prices for the platform, the applications, and the platform access fee for applications may be below marginal cost, and we characterize demand conditions that lead to this. The proprietary applications sector of an industry based on an open source platform may be more profitable than the total profits of a proprietary platform industry. When users have a strong preference for application variety, the total profits of the proprietary industry are larger than the total profits of an industry based on an open source platform. The variety of applications is larger when the platform is open source. When a system based on an open source platform with an independent proprietary application competes with a proprietary system, the proprietary system is likely to dominate the open source platform industry both in terms of market share and profitability. This may explain the dominance of Microsoft in the market for PC operating systems.

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File URL: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/networks/Two-sided.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 05-06.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0506

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Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

Related research

Keywords: networks; network effects; network externalities; complements; systems; open source software; technology platforms; software industry structure;

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  1. Mustonen, Mikko, 2003. "Copyleft--the economics of Linux and other open source software," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 99-121, March.
  2. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Pankaj Ghemawat, 2006. "Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1072-1084, July.
  3. Farrell, Joseph & Katz, Michael, 2000. "Innovation, Rent Extraction, and Integration in Systems Markets," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt15k4v7xb, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Mikko Mustonen, 2005. "When Does a Firm Support Substitute Open Source Programming?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 121-139, 03.
  5. 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.
  6. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2005. "The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
  7. Nicholas Economides, 1997. "The Economics of Networks," Brazilian Electronic Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, vol. 1(0), December.
  8. Carmen Matutes & Pierre Regibeau, 1988. ""Mix and Match": Product Compatibility without Network Externalities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(2), pages 221-234, Summer.
  9. Economides, Nicholas, 1989. "Desirability of Compatibility in the Absence of Network Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1165-81, December.
  10. Justin Pappas Johnson, 2002. "Open Source Software: Private Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 637-662, December.
  11. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "The open source movement: Key research questions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 819-826, May.
  12. Economides, Nicholas & Salop, Steven C, 1992. "Competition and Integration among Complements, and Network Market Structure," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 105-23, March.
  13. Jürgen Bitzer & Philipp J. H. Schröder, 2003. "Competition and Innovation in a Technology Setting Software Duopoly," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 363, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  14. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Cooperation Among Competitors: Some Economics Of Payment Card Associations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 549-570, Winter.
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