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Platform Competition, Compatibility, and Social Efficiency

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Abstract

In their seminal 1985 paper, Katz and Shapiro study systems compatibility in settings with one-sided platforms and direct network effects. We consider systems compatibility when competing platforms are two-sided and there are indirect network effects to develop an explanation why markets with two-sided platforms are often characterized by incompatibility with one dominant player who may subsidize access to one side of the market. Specifically, we model competitive interaction between two platform providers that act as intermediaries between developers of platform-based products (applications) and users of such products. We show that the unique equilibrium under platform compatibility leads to higher profits than the symmetric equilibrium under incompatibility. Notwithstanding, incompatibility naturally gives rise to asymmetric equilibria with a dominant platform that captures all users and earns more than under compatibility. Our model allows a detailed analysis of social efficiency, and we show that entry by developers is socially excessive (insufficient) if competing platforms are compatible (incompatible). We conclude that while society would be better off if platforms were compatible, the quest for market dominance by competing platform providers prevents them from agreeing to a common standard.

Suggested Citation

  • Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Francisco Ruiz-Aliseda, 2008. "Platform Competition, Compatibility, and Social Efficiency," Working Papers 08-32, NET Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0832
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mark Armstrong, 2006. "Competition in two‐sided markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 668-691, September.
    2. David Evans & Richard Schmalensee, 2007. "The Industrial Organization of Markets with Two-Sided Platforms," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 3.
    3. Jean‐Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Two‐sided markets: a progress report," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 645-667, September.
    4. David A. Malueg & Marius Schwartz, 2006. "COMPATIBILITY INCENTIVES OF A LARGE NETWORK FACING MULTIPLE RIVALS -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 527-567, December.
    5. Andrei Hagiu, 2009. "Two-Sided Platforms: Product Variety and Pricing Structures," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 1011-1043, December.
    6. Economides, Nicholas, 1989. "Desirability of Compatibility in the Absence of Network Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1165-1181, December.
    7. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:720-737 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Novshek, William, 1980. "Equilibrium in simple spatial (or differentiated product) models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 313-326, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sagit Bar-Gill, 2013. "Game of Platforms: Strategic Expansion in Two-Sided Markets," Working Papers 13-12, NET Institute.
    2. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Feng Zhu, 2010. "Strategies to Fight Ad-Sponsored Rivals," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(9), pages 1484-1499, September.
    3. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Hanna Hałaburda, 2014. "When Does a Platform Create Value by Limiting Choice?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(2), pages 259-293, June.
    4. Miao, Chun-Hui, 2011. "Planned obsolescence and monopoly undersupply," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 51-58, March.
    5. Maruyama, Masayoshi & Zennyo, Yusuke, 2015. "Application compatibility and affiliation in two-sided markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 39-42.
    6. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Feng Zhu, 2009. "Strategies to Fight Ad-sponsored Rivals," Working Papers 09-09, NET Institute, revised Sep 2009.
    7. Hanna Halaburda & Yaron Yehezkel, 2013. "Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 22-68, August.
    8. Viecens María Fernanda, 2011. "Compatibility with Firm Dominance," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(4), pages 1-27, December.
    9. repec:eee:iepoli:v:40:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Two-sided Platforms; Incompatibility; Network Externalities; Market Dominance; Tipping; Pricing Structure;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General

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