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The Industrial Organization of Markets with Two-Sided Platforms

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  • David S. Evans
  • Richard Schmalensee

Abstract

Two-sided platforms (2SPs) cater to two or more distinct groups of customers, facilitating value-creating interactions between them. The village market and the village matchmaker were 2SPs; eBay and Match.com are more recent examples. Other examples include payment card systems, magazines, shopping malls, and personal computer operating systems. Building on the seminal work of Rochet and Tirole (2003), a rapidly growing literature has illuminated the economic principles that apply to 2SPs generally. One key result is that 2SPs may find it profit-maximizing to charge prices for one customer group that are below marginal cost or even negative, and such skewed pricing pattern is prevalent, although not universal, in industries that appear to be based on 2SPs. Over the years, courts have also recognized that certain industries, notably payment card systems and newspapers, now understood to be based on 2SPs, are governed by unusual economic relationships. This chapter provides an introduction to the economics of 2SPs and its application to several competition policy issues.

Suggested Citation

  • David S. Evans & Richard Schmalensee, 2005. "The Industrial Organization of Markets with Two-Sided Platforms," NBER Working Papers 11603, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11603 Note: IO
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tomas Philipson & Stephane Mechoulan, 2003. "Intellectual Property & External Consumption Effects: Generalizations from Pharmaceutical Markets," NBER Working Papers 9598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin Gaynor & Deborah Haas-Wilson & William B. Vogt, 2000. "Are Invisible Hands Good Hands? Moral Hazard, Competition, and the Second-Best in Health Care Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 992-1005, October.
    3. Walter Y. Oi, 1971. "A Disneyland Dilemma: Two-Part Tariffs for a Mickey Mouse Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(1), pages 77-96.
    4. Wright, Brian Davern, 1983. "The Economics of Invention Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 691-707, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies

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