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Technological Competition and the Structure of the Computer Industry

  • Timothy F. Bresnahan
  • Shane Greenstein

The authors examine thirty years of computer industry market structure. Their analysis explains the persistence of dominant computer firms, their recent decline, and the changing success of competitive entry. It emphasizes the importance of technological competition between computer 'platforms,' not firms. This aspect of competition has changed little over time. Two things did change. Young platforms serving newly founded segments eventually challenged established platforms across segment boundaries through a process of indirect entry. Vertically disintegrated platforms have led to divided technical leadership in important segments. The result is an industry with far more technological competition. Copyright 1999 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd

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Paper provided by Stanford University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 97028.

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Date of creation: 27 May 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:97028
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  1. Stanley M. Besen & Joseph Farrell, 1994. "Choosing How to Compete: Strategies and Tactics in Standardization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 117-131, Spring.
  2. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  3. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Franco Malerba, 1997. "Industrial Dynamics and the Evolution of Firms' and Nations' Competitive Capabilities in the World Computer Industry," Working Papers 97030, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  4. Gort, Michael & Klepper, Steven, 1982. "Time Paths in the Diffusion of Product Innovations," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 630-53, September.
  5. Caves, R E & Porter, M E, 1977. "From Entry Barriers to Mobility Barriers: Conjectural Decisions and Contrived Deterrence to New Competition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 241-61, May.
  6. David, Paul A. & Steinmueller, W. Edward, 1994. "Economics of compatibility standards and competition in telecommunication networks," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(3-4), pages 217-241, December.
  7. Greenstein, Shane M, 1997. "Lock-in and the Costs of Switching Mainframe Computer Vendors: What Do Buyers See?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 247-73, March.
  8. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1995. "Path Dependence, Lock-in, and History," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 205-26, April.
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