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Exclusive Handset Arrangements in the Wireless Industry: A Competitive Analysis

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  • Upender Subramanian

    (Naveen Jindal School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75080)

  • Jagmohan S. Raju

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

  • Z. John Zhang

    (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

Abstract

In many markets, a handset vendor and a service provider may enter into a tie-in for a handset to be available exclusively through the service provider. We examine when and why a service provider and a handset vendor may find this arrangement mutually profitable. We find that an exclusive handset arrangement (EHA) may serve a dual strategic purpose. By restricting its handsets to one service provider, a handset vendor may be able to induce a rival handset vendor to compete less aggressively. At the same time, the service provider may be able to essentially raise a rival service provider's handset costs by limiting the handsets available to the rival. Interestingly, the handset vendor's market share may be higher when its handset is sold exclusively than when it is not. Our results might explain why EHAs seem more attractive in some markets than in others, why some service providers have exclusive arrangements even for handset models that do not seem popular, and how some handset vendors enjoy high market shares despite having many exclusive models. Furthermore, an EHA may lower the handset vendor's incentives to improve handset quality, supporting concerns raised by proponents of wireless network neutrality.

Suggested Citation

  • Upender Subramanian & Jagmohan S. Raju & Z. John Zhang, 2013. "Exclusive Handset Arrangements in the Wireless Industry: A Competitive Analysis," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 246-270, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:32:y:2013:i:2:p:246-270
    DOI: 10.1287/mksc.1120.0752
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    Cited by:

    1. Gielens, Katrijn & Gijsbrechts, Els & Dekimpe, Marnik G., 2014. "Gains and losses of exclusivity in grocery retailing," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 239-252.
    2. Upender Subramanian & Jagmohan S. Raju & Z. John Zhang, 2014. "The Strategic Value of High-Cost Customers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(2), pages 494-507, February.

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