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

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  • Irina Suleymanova
  • Christian Wey

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Irina Suleymanova & Christian Wey, 2008. "On the (Mis-) Alignment of Consumer and Social Welfare in Markets with Network Effects," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 794, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp794
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2007. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
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    4. 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.
    5. Becker, Gary S, 1991. "A Note on Restaurant Pricing and Other Examples of Social Influences on Price," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 1109-1116, October.
    6. Corneo, Giacomo & Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, snobbism and conformism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 55-71, October.
    7. Grilo, Isabel & Shy, Oz & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 2001. "Price competition when consumer behavior is characterized by conformity or vanity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 385-408, June.
    8. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-440, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Shy,Oz, 2001. "The Economics of Network Industries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521805001, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Shekhar, Shiva, 2017. "Homing choice and platform pricing strategy," DICE Discussion Papers 247, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    2. Clémence Christin, 2013. "Entry Deterrence Through Cooperative R&D Over-Investment," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 79(2), pages 5-26.
    3. repec:kap:jincot:v:17:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10842-016-0236-x is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Doganoglu Toker & Grzybowski Lukasz, 2013. "Dynamic Duopoly Competition with Switching Costs and Network Externalities," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, March.
    5. Corrado Benassi & Marcella Scrimitore, 2017. "Income Distribution in Network Markets," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 251-271, September.
    6. Gu, Yiquan & Wenzel, Tobias, 2012. "Transparency, entry, and productivity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 7-10.
    7. Suleymanova Irina & Wey Christian, 2011. "Bertrand Competition in Markets with Network Effects and Switching Costs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-58, September.
    8. Stühmeier Torben & Wenzel Tobias, 2012. "Regulating Advertising in the Presence of Public Service Broadcasting," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(2), pages 1-23, June.
    9. Tsuyoshi Toshimitsu, 2016. "Stubbornness is unprofitable: On the role of consumer expectations in a monopoly network goods market," Discussion Paper Series 152, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, revised Dec 2016.
    10. repec:kap:jincot:v:17:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10842-016-0235-y is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Haucap, Justus & Herr, Annika & Frank, Björn, 2011. "In vino veritas: Theory and evidence on social drinking," DICE Discussion Papers 37, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    12. Tsuyoshi Toshimitsu, 2017. "On consumer expectations in a network goods market: The monopoly case," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 37(1), pages 488-493.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bertrand duopoly; network effects; (In-) compatibility; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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