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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.

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  • 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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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Mantovani & Francisco Ruiz-Aliseda, 2016. "Equilibrium Innovation Ecosystems: The Dark Side of Collaborating with Complementors," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(2), pages 534-549, February.
    2. Ramon Casadesus‐Masanell & Gastón Llanes, 2015. "Investment Incentives in Open‐Source and Proprietary Two‐Sided Platforms," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(2), pages 306-324, June.
    3. Reinhilde Veugelers, 2018. "Eco-systems for young digital innovators," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 43(6), pages 1449-1465, December.
    4. Viecens María Fernanda, 2011. "Compatibility with Firm Dominance," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(4), pages 1-27, December.
    5. Sagit Bar-Gill, 2013. "Game of Platforms: Strategic Expansion in Two-Sided Markets," Working Papers 13-12, NET Institute.
    6. 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.
    7. Maruyama, Masayoshi & Zennyo, Yusuke, 2015. "Application compatibility and affiliation in two-sided markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 39-42.
    8. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Feng Zhu, 2009. "Strategies to Fight Ad-sponsored Rivals," Working Papers 09-09, NET Institute, revised Sep 2009.
    9. Hanna Halaburda & Yaron Yehezkel, 2013. "Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 22-68, August.
    10. Georgios Petropoulos & Bertin Martens & Geoffrey Parker & Marshall Van Alstyne, 2023. "Platform Competition and Information Sharing," CESifo Working Paper Series 10663, CESifo.
    11. Alexei Alexandrov, 2015. "Anti-Competitive Interconnection: the effects of the elasticity of consumers' expectations and the shape of the network effects function," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(1), pages 74-99, March.
    12. Ding, Rong & Ko, Chiu Yu & Shen, Bo, 2022. "Partial compatibility in two-sided markets: Equilibrium and welfare analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    13. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Feng Zhu, 2010. "Strategies to Fight Ad-Sponsored Rivals," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(9), pages 1484-1499, September.
    14. Ron Adner & Jianqing Chen & Feng Zhu, 2020. "Frenemies in Platform Markets: Heterogeneous Profit Foci as Drivers of Compatibility Decisions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(6), pages 2432-2451, June.
    15. Wang, Wei & Lyu, Gaoyan, 2020. "Sequential product positioning on a platform in the presence of network effects," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 229(C).
    16. Gastón Llanes & Andrea Mantovani & Francisco Ruiz-Aliseda, 2019. "Entry into Complementary Good Markets with Network Effects," Strategy Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(4), pages 262-282, December.
    17. Dohoon Kim, 2018. "Equilibrium Analysis for Platform Developers in Two-Sided Market with Backward Compatibility," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-24, October.
    18. Maruyama Masayoshi & Zennyo Yusuke, 2013. "Compatibility and the Product Life Cycle in Two-Sided Markets," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 131-155, June.
    19. Miao, Chun-Hui, 2011. "Planned obsolescence and monopoly undersupply," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 51-58, March.
    20. Arnold, René & Hildebrandt, Christian & Taş, Serpil, 2020. "European data economy: Between competition and regulation. Final report," Study Series, WIK Wissenschaftliches Institut für Infrastruktur und Kommunikationsdienste GmbH, number 251538.
    21. Maruyama, Masayoshi & Zennyo, Yusuke, 2017. "Process innovation, application compatibility, and welfare," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 1-12.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Two-sided Platforms; Incompatibility; Network Externalities; Market Dominance; Tipping; Pricing Structure;
    All these keywords.

    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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