Monopolization via Voluntary Network Effects

24 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2010

See all articles by Adi Ayal

Adi Ayal

Bar-Ilan University - Faculty of Law

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Date Written: August 2, 2010


Network effects are commonly seen as an exogenous product characteristic, relevant to some products but not others. This paper explores an existing, but often-ignored issue, that network effects are sometimes voluntarily created by the firm, and need not exist otherwise. When a firm strategically creates network effects, the result could be a shift in market structure, leading to a tipping monopoly-prone market, rather than a more competitive one.

The paper explains two main methods of VNE creation, and assesses their characterization as willful acquisition or maintenance of monopoly power - a Section 2 Sherman Act offense. Guiding examples include differential pricing for in-net vs. off-net calls in the cellular market, and technological innovation of add-on components in video games. Other applications and future extensions are discussed. Discussion of policy implications concludes, including the difficulties and dangers of excessive regulation.

Keywords: network effects, antitrust, cellular, monopolization

Suggested Citation

Ayal, Adi, Monopolization via Voluntary Network Effects (August 2, 2010). Antitrust Law Journal, Vol. 76, No. 3, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Adi Ayal (Contact Author)

Bar-Ilan University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Faculty of Law
Ramat Gan, 52900


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