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Does a Platform Owning Monopolist Want Competition?

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  • Andras Niedermayer

Abstract

We consider a software vendor selling both a monopoly platform (e.g. operating system) and an application that runs on this platform. He may face competition by an entrant in the applications market. Consumers are heterogeneous in their preferences for both the platform and the applications. They first buy the platform and then the applications. Their utility over the horizontally differentiated applications is known only after they bought the platform. In equilibrium the platform seller can be better off with a competitor in the applications market for three reasons. First, the platform vendor makes more profits with his platform. Second, the competitor's entry serves as a credible commitment to lower prices for applications. Third, higher ex ante expectations of product diversity lead to a higher demand for his application. Competition may be profit enhancing even if the first two effects are absent, i.e. the product diversity effect can be sufficient. The model also gives an answer to the much debated question why Microsoft prices MS Office significantly higher than its operating system.

Suggested Citation

  • Andras Niedermayer, 2005. "Does a Platform Owning Monopolist Want Competition?," Diskussionsschriften dp0517, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  • Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0517
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nicholas Economides & Brian Viard, 2003. "Pricing of Complementary Goods and Network Effects," Working Papers 03-12, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    2. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole, 2014. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 10.
    3. David S. Evans & Andrei Hagiu & Richard Schmalensee, 2005. "A Survey of the Economic Role of Software Platforms in Computer-based Industries," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 51(2-3), pages 189-224.
    4. Joseph Farrell & Nancy T. Gallini, 1988. "Second-Sourcing as a Commitment: Monopoly Incentives to Attract Competition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(4), pages 673-694.
    5. Volker Nocke & Martin Peitz & Konrad Stahl, 2007. "Platform Ownership," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1130-1160, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Two-sided markets; platforms; entry; complementary goods; price commitment; product diversity; Microsoft;

    JEL classification:

    • D41 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Perfect Competition
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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