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Some Economics of User Interfaces


  • Hal R. Varian

    (University of Michigan)


I examine the incentives for software providers to design appropriate user interfaces. There are two sorts of costs involved when one uses software: the fixed cost of learning to use a piece of software and the the variable cost of operating the software. For example menu driven software is easy to learn, but tedious to operate. I show that a monopoly provider of software generally invests the ``right'' amount of resources in making the software easy to learn, but too little in making it easy to operate. In some extreme cases a monopolist may even make the software {\it too\/} easy to learn.

Suggested Citation

  • Hal R. Varian, 1994. "Some Economics of User Interfaces," Computational Economics 9401003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpco:9401003
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sheshinski, Eytan, 1976. "Price, Quality and Quantity Regulation in Monopoly Situations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(17), pages 127-137, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs


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