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Indirect Network Effects and Adoption Externalities

  • Church, Jeffrey
  • Gandal, Neil
  • Krause, David

The conventional wisdom is that indirect network effects, unlike direct network effects, do not give rise to externalities. In this Paper we show that under very general conditions, indirect network effects lead to adoption externalities. In particular we show that in markets where consumption benefits arise from hardware/software systems, adoption externalities will occur when there are (i) increasing returns to scale in the production of software, (ii) free-entry in software, and (iii) consumers have a preference for software variety. The private benefit of the marginal hardware purchaser is less than the social benefit since the marginal hardware purchaser does not internalize the welfare improving response of the software industry, particularly the increase in software variety, on inframarginal purchasers when the market for hardware expands.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3738.

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Date of creation: Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3738
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  1. Church, J. & Gandal, N., 1992. "Integration, Complementary Products and Variety," Papers 3-92, Tel Aviv.
  2. Nicholas Economides, 1995. "The Economics of Networks," Working Papers 94-24, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, revised Sep 1995.
  3. 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.
  4. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
  5. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Farrell, Joseph & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "Standardization and variety," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 71-74.
  7. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
  8. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-41, August.
  9. Church, J. & Gandal, N., 1991. "Complementary Network Externalities and Technological Adoption," Papers 5-91, Tel Aviv.
  10. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-40, June.
  11. Church, J. & Gandal, N., 1996. "Systems Competition, Vertical Merger and Foreclosure," Papers 6-96, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  12. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1992. "Network Effects, Software Provision, and Standardization," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 85-103, March.
  13. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1986. "Installed Base and Compatibility, With Implications for Product Preannouncements," Working papers 411, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Spence, Michael, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 217-35, June.
  15. Chou, Chien-fu & Shy, Oz, 1990. "Network effects without network externalities," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 259-270, June.
  16. 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.
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