Platform Competition Under Asymmetric Information
Bank of Canada
Faculty of Management, Tel-Aviv University
February 7, 2011
Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 11-080
In the context of platform competition in a two-sided market, we study how uncertainty and asymmetric information concerning the success of a new technology affects the strategies of the platforms and the market outcome. We find that the incumbent dominates the market by setting the welfare-maximizing quantity when the difference in the degree of asymmetric information between buyers and sellers is significant. However, if this difference is below a certain threshold, then even the incumbent platform will distort its quantity downward. Since a monopoly incumbent would set the welfare-maximizing quantity, this result indicates that platform competition may lead in a market failure: Competition results in a lower quantity and lower welfare than a monopoly. We consider two applications of the model. First, the model provides a compelling argument why it is usually entrants, not incumbents, that bring major technological innovations to the market. Second, we consider multi-homing. We find that the incumbent dominates the market and earns higher profit under multi-homing than under single-homing. Multi-homing solves the market failure resulting from asymmetric information in that the incumbent can motivate the two sides to trade for the first-best quantity even if the difference in the degree of asymmetric information between the two sides is narrow.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49
Date posted: February 10, 2011
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