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The Control of Porting in Two-Sided Markets

  • Pollock, R.

A sizable literature has grown up in recent years focusing on two-sided markets in which economies of scale combined with complementarities between a platform and its associated ‘software’ or ‘services’ can generate indirect network effects (that is positive feedback between the number of consumers using that platform and the utility of an individual consumer). In this paper we introduce a model of ‘porting’ in such markets where porting denotes the conversion of ‘software’ or ‘services’ developed for one platform to run on another. Focusing on the case where a dominant platform exists we investigate the impact on equilibrium and the consequences for welfare of the ability to control porting. Specifically, we show that the welfare costs associated with the ‘control of porting’ may be more significant than those arising from pricing alone. This model and its associated results are of particular relevance because of the light they shed on debates about the motivations and effects of actions by a dominant platform owner. Recent examples of such debates include those about Microsoft’s behaviour both in relation to its operating system and its media player, Apple’s behaviour in relation to its DRM and iTunes platform, and Ebay’s use of the cyber-trespass doctrine to prevent access to its site.

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File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0754.pdf
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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0754.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0754
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

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  1. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Triole, 2002. "Platform competition in two sided markets," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24929, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Jay Pil Choi, 2007. "Tying in Two-Sided Markets with Multi-Homing," CESifo Working Paper Series 2073, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1992. "Network Effects, Software Provision, and Standardization," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 85-103, March.
  4. Choi, Jay Pil, 1997. "The Provision of (Two-Way) Converters in the Transition Process to a New Incompatible Technology," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 139-53, June.
  5. Benjamin Klein, 2001. "The Microsoft Case: What Can a Dominant Firm Do to Defend Its Market Position?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 45-62, Spring.
  6. Economides, Nicholas, 1989. "Symmetric equilibrium existence and optimality in differentiated product markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 178-194, February.
  7. Richard J. Gilbert & Michael L. Katz, 2001. "An Economist's Guide to U.S. v. Microsoft," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 25-44, Spring.
  8. Jean‐Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Two‐sided markets: a progress report," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 645-667, 09.
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