Bundles of Joy: The Ubiquity and Efficiency of Bundles in New Technology Markets
Posted: 17 Mar 2009
Date Written: March 2009
This paper examines the economic logic underlying bundles and tie-in sales and uses the lessons learned from that examination to analyze seven specific instances of bundling that have been the subject of antitrust scrutiny or other policy initiatives. Of particular interest are products that are nonrivalrous in consumption, making all-you-can-eat pricing a viable candidate for efficiency. The main economic points are the following: À-la-carte pricing may populate economic models, but most products are bundles. They are bundles because bundles are generally more efficient. Tie-in sales are much less common and often not properly understood in textbook discussions. Market foreclosure, the principal efficiency concern with tying and bundling, is likely to be exceedingly rare. The seven instances of bundling (ties) examined in the paper are: cable television; patent pools; blanket licenses; iPods and iTunes; telephones; music albums and songs; operating systems and component programs.
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