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Optimal Consumer Network Structure Formation under Network Effects: Seeds Controllability and Visibility

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Abstract

Understanding the process of software adoption is of paramount importance to software start-ups. We study a monopolistic seller’s optimal consumer network structure formation (seeding, segmentation, sequencing, and pricing strategies) under network effects. We demonstrate the importance of adoption sequencing as well as controllability over the seeding process to seller’s profit, consumer surplus, and social welfare. Under multi-pricing, full information, and full control over the seeding process, with both multiplicative and additive forms of network effects, we show that all segments contain only paying customers except the first one, which contains both seeded and paying customers; and segments are opened in order of the customer valuation. Further, the seller’s optimal strategy is socially optimal. Under single-pricing and limited seeding control, worst case seeding (where all seeds go to the high-valuation customers) leads to higher social welfare and consumer surplus than uniform seeding, as the former covers a larger portion of the market while charging a lower price. In the case of random seeding with limited control, we identify an optimal strategy and conditions under which the optimal price is not affected by the randomness of seeding.

Suggested Citation

  • Yifan Dou & Marius Florin Niculescu & Dongjun Wu, 2011. "Optimal Consumer Network Structure Formation under Network Effects: Seeds Controllability and Visibility," Working Papers 11-07, NET Institute, revised Oct 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1107
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    File URL: http://www.netinst.org/Dou_Niculescu_11_07.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Farrell, Joseph & Saloner, Garth, 1986. "Installed Base and Compatibility: Innovation, Product Preannouncements, and Predation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 940-955, December.
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    4. Donald Lehmann & Mercedes Esteban-Bravo, 2006. "When giving some away makes sense to jump-start the diffusion process," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 243-254, December.
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    7. Cheng, Hsing Kenneth & Tang, Qian Candy, 2010. "Free trial or no free trial: Optimal software product design with network effects," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 205(2), pages 437-447, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    network effects; software; seeding; adoption sequencing; price discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • M15 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - IT Management
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing

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