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Towards a Theory of Platform Dynamics


  • Cabral, Luis


I introduce a dynamic framework to analyze platforms. The (single) platform owner sets prices at the beginning of each period. Agents (buyers, sellers, readers, consumers, merchants, etc) make platform membership decisions occasionally. I show that optimal platform pricing addresses two externalities: across sides and across time periods. This results in optimal prices which depend on platform size in a non-trivial way. By means of numerical simulations, I examine the determinants of equilibrium platform size, showing that the stationary distribution of platform size may be bi-modal, that is, with some probability the platform remains very low or takes very long to increase in size. I also contrast the dynamics of proprietary vs non-proprietary (i.e., zero-priced) platforms; and consider the specific case of asymmetric platforms (one side cares about the other but not vice-versa).

Suggested Citation

  • Cabral, Luis, 2018. "Towards a Theory of Platform Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 13052, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13052

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, Bruno, 2003. "Chicken & Egg: Competition among Intermediation Service Providers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 309-328, Summer.
    2. Luís Cabral, 2011. "Dynamic Price Competition with Network Effects," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 78(1), pages 83-111.
    3. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 990-1029, June.
    4. Cabral, Luis M B & Riordan, Michael H, 1994. "The Learning Curve, Market Dominance, and Predatory Pricing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1115-1140, September.
    5. Cabral, Luis M. B. & Salant, David J. & Woroch, Glenn A., 1999. "Monopoly pricing with network externalities," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 199-214, February.
    6. Martin Peitz & Sven Rady & Piers Trepper, 2017. "Experimentation in Two-Sided Markets," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 128-172.
    7. André Veiga & E. Glen Weyl & Alexander White, 2017. "Multidimensional Platform Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 191-195, May.
    8. Christopher Budd & Christopher Harris & John Vickers, 1993. "A Model of the Evolution of Duopoly: Does the Asymmetry between Firms Tend to Increase or Decrease?," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 60(3), pages 543-573.
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    Cited by:

    1. Belleflamme, Paul & Peitz, Martin, 2019. "Price disclosure by two-sided platforms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    2. Suuronen, Sami & Ukko, Juhani & Saunila, Minna & Rantala, Tero & Rantanen, Hannu, 2024. "The implications of multi-sided platforms in managing digital business ecosystems," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
    3. Jacques Crémer & Gary Biglaiser & André Veiga, 2022. "Should I stay or should I go? Migrating away from an incumbent platform," Post-Print hal-03792918, HAL.
    4. Crémer, Jacques & Biglaiser, Gary & Veiga, André, 2022. "Should I stay or should I go? Migrating away from an incumbent platform," TSE Working Papers 21-1281, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    5. Anciaes, Paulo & Metcalfe, Paul & Heywood, Chris & Sheldon, Rob, 2019. "The impact of fare complexity on rail demand," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 224-238.
    6. Cenamor, Javier, 2021. "Complementor competitive advantage: A framework for strategic decisions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 335-343.
    7. Geng, Yang & Zhang, Yulin, 2020. "Platform launch in two-sided markets and users’ expectations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 558(C).

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