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Game of Platforms: Strategic Expansion in Two-Sided Markets

Author

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  • Sagit Bar-Gill

    () (Tel Aviv University)

Abstract

Online platforms, such as Google, Facebook, or Amazon, are constantly expanding their activities, while increasing the overlap in their service offering. In this paper, we study the scope and overlap of online platforms' activities, when they are endogenously determined. We model an expansion game between two online platforms offering two different services to users for free, while selling user clicks to advertisers. At the outset, each platform offers one service, and users may subscribe to one platform or both (multihoming). In the second stage, each platform decides whether to expand by adding the service already offered by its rival. Platforms' expansion decisions affect users' mobility, and thus the partition of users in the market, which, in turn, affects platform prices and profits. We analyze the equilibrium of the expansion game, demonstrating that, in equilibrium, platforms may decide not to expand, even though expansion is costless. Such strategic "no expansion" decisions are due to quantity and price effects of changes in user mobility, brought on by expansion. Both symmetric expansion and symmetric no-expansion equilibria may arise, as well as asymmetric expansion equilibria, even for initially symmetric platforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Sagit Bar-Gill, 2013. "Game of Platforms: Strategic Expansion in Two-Sided Markets," Working Papers 13-12, NET Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1312
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kaiser, Ulrich & Wright, Julian, 2006. "Price structure in two-sided markets: Evidence from the magazine industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
    2. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Francisco Ruiz-Aliseda, 2008. "Platform Competition, Compatibility, and Social Efficiency," Working Papers 08-32, NET Institute.
    3. Gabszewicz, Jean J & Laussel, Didier & Sonnac, Nathalie, 2002. " Press Advertising and the Political Differentiation of Newspapers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 4(3), pages 317-334.
    4. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, Bruno, 2001. "Competing cybermediaries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 797-808, May.
    5. Stefan Behringer & Lapo Filistrucchi, 2009. "Price Wars in Two-Sided Markets: The case of the UK Quality Newspapers," Working Papers 09-26, NET Institute, revised Dec 2009.
    6. Hanna Halaburda & Yaron Yehezkel, 2013. "Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 22-68, August.
    7. Gabszewicz, Jean J. & Laussel, Dider & Sonnac, Nathalie, 2001. "Press advertising and the ascent of the 'Pensee Unique'," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 641-651, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Two-sided markets; Platforms; Entry; Online advertising;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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