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On the (Mis-) Alignment of Consumer and Social Welfare in Markets with Network Effects

  • Irina Suleymanova
  • Christian Wey

We analyze duopoly Bertrand competition under network effects. We consider both incompatible and compatible products. Our main result is that network effects create a fundamental conflict between the maximization of social welfare and consumer surplus whenever products are incompatible. While consumer surplus is highest in the symmetric equilibrium, social welfare is highest in the asymmetric equilibrium. We also show that both consumer surplus and social welfare are higher in any equilibrium under compatibility when compared with incompatible products. However, .firms never have strict incentives to achieve compatibility. Finally, we show the robustness of our results when products are horizontally differentiated.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.83644.de/dp794.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 794.

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Length: 15 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp794
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  1. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-40, June.
  2. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Snobs, bandwagons, and the origin of social customs in consumer behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 333-347, March.
  3. Paul Klemperer & Joseph Farrell, 2006. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Eirik Kristiansen & Marcel Thum, 1997. "R&D incentives in compatible networks," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 65(1), pages 55-78, February.
  5. GRILO, Isabel & SHY, Oz & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Price competition when consumer behavior is characterized by conformity or vanity," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1518, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, snobbism and conformism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 55-71, October.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521800952 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Baake, Pio & Boom, Anette, 2001. "Vertical product differentiation, network externalities, and compatibility decisions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 267-284, January.
  9. Farrell, Joseph & Saloner, Garth, 1992. "Converters, Compatibility, and the Control of Interfaces," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 9-35, March.
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1991. "A Note on Restaurant Pricing and Other Examples of Social Influences on Price," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 67, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521805001 is not listed on IDEAS
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