Harvard University - Strategy Unit
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
September 16, 2009
NET Institute Working Paper No. 09-06
We study competitive interaction between profit-maximizing firms that sell software and complementary goods or services. In addition to tactical price competition, we allow firms to compete through business model reconfigurations. We consider three business models: the proprietary model (where all software modules offered by the firm are proprietary), the open source model (where all modules are open source), and the mixed source model (where a few modules are open). When a firm opens one of its modules, users can access and improve the source code. At the same time, however, opening a module sets up an open source (free) competitor. This hampers the firm's ability to capture value. We analyze three competitive situations: monopoly, commercial firm vs. non-profit open source project, and duopoly. We show that: (i) firms may become "more closed" in response to competition from an outside open source project; (ii) firms are more likely to open substitute, rather than complementary, modules to existing open source projects; (iii) when the products of two competing firms are similar in quality, firms differentiate through choosing different business models; and (iv) low-quality firms are generally more prone to opening some of their technologies than firms with high-quality products.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 59
Keywords: Open Source, User Innovation, Business Models, Complementarity, Vertical Dierentiation, Value Creation, Value Capture
JEL Classification: O31, L17, D43
Date posted: September 22, 2009
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