Optimal Compatibility in Systems Markets
29 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2014
Date Written: October 24, 2014
We investigate private and social incentives for standardization to ensure market-wide system compatibility in a two-dimensional spatial competition model. We develop a new methodology to analyze competition on a torus and show that there is a fundamental conflict of interest between consumers and producers over the standardization decision. Consumers prefer standardization with full compatibility because it offers more variety that confers a better match with their ideal specifications. However, firms are likely to choose the minimal compatibility to maximize product differentiation and soften competition. This is in sharp contrast to the previous literature that shows the alignment of private and social incentives for compatibility.
Keywords: compatibility, system competition, standardization, spatial competition model, free entry
JEL Classification: D430, L130, L220
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