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Research Note--When Is Versioning Optimal for Information Goods?


  • Hemant K. Bhargava

    () (Graduate School of Management, University of California, Davis, Davis, California 95616)

  • Vidyanand Choudhary

    () (The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California 92697)


This paper provides insights about when versioning is an optimal strategy for information goods. Our characterization of this class of goods is that variable costs are invariant with quality, including the special case of zero variable costs. Our analysis assumes a monopoly firm that has an existing product in the market and has an opportunity to segment the market by introducing additional lower-quality versions. We derive a simple decision rule for determining the optimality of versioning based on the solution to a single-product maximization problem. Versioning is optimal when the optimal market share of the lower-quality version, offered alone, is greater than the optimal market share of the high-quality version, offered alone. A firm can profitably employ versioning for an information good if it can design the lower quality in a way that, relative to their valuations for the high-end version, high-type consumers have a lower relative valuation for the lower quality than do low-type consumers. When variable costs increase, a firm that offered only one product version need not consider adding another version. When variable costs decrease, the firm should explore adding a lower-quality version.

Suggested Citation

  • Hemant K. Bhargava & Vidyanand Choudhary, 2008. "Research Note--When Is Versioning Optimal for Information Goods?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(5), pages 1029-1035, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:54:y:2008:i:5:p:1029-1035

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Joan Calzada & Guillem Ordóñez, 2012. "Competition in the news industry: fighting aggregators with versions and links," Working Papers 12-22, NET Institute.
    2. Daniel Halbheer & Florian Stahl & Oded Koenigsberg & Donald R. Lehmann, 2013. "Digital Content Strategies," Working Papers 329, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    3. Joan Calzada & Tommaso M. Valletti, 2012. "Intertemporal Movie Distribution: Versioning When Customers Can Buy Both Versions," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(4), pages 649-667, July.
    4. Iveroth, Einar & Westelius, Alf & Petri, Carl-Johan & Olve, Nils-Göran & Cöster, Mathias & Nilsson, Fredrik, 2013. "How to differentiate by price: Proposal for a five-dimensional model," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 109-123.
    5. Francisco Martínez Sánchez, 2016. "Versioning Goods and Joint Purchase: Substitution and Complementarity Strategies," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2016(5), pages 577-590.
    6. Schlereth, Christian & Stepanchuk, Tanja & Skiera, Bernd, 2010. "Optimization and analysis of the profitability of tariff structures with two-part tariffs," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 206(3), pages 691-701, November.
    7. Atanu Lahiri & Debabrata Dey, 2013. "Effects of Piracy on Quality of Information Goods," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 245-264, June.
    8. Eric T. Anderson & James D. Dana, Jr., 2009. "When Is Price Discrimination Profitable?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(6), pages 980-989, June.
    9. Yalç{i}n Akçay & Harihara Prasad Natarajan & Susan H. Xu, 2010. "Joint Dynamic Pricing of Multiple Perishable Products Under Consumer Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(8), pages 1345-1361, August.
    10. Roy Jones & Haim Mendelson, 2011. "Information Goods vs. Industrial Goods: Cost Structure and Competition," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(1), pages 164-176, January.
    11. Sonja Lehmann & Peter Buxmann, 2009. "Pricing Strategies of Software Vendors," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 1(6), pages 452-462, December.


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