Entry into Complementary Good Markets with Network Effects
60 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2016
Date Written: September 30, 2016
We study whether complementarities can help a firm enter a market with strong network effects and incumbency advantages. We find that bundling the network good with a complementary good, or using the network good as a loss leader (i.e., pricing below marginal cost) can facilitate entry, but that these strategies involve costs that may render them undesirable for the entrant. We also find that the entrant always prefers to make the complementarity general (so that the incumbent benefits from it as well) over having a firm-specific complementarity and using a loss leading strategy. Pricing and product design strategies are interdependent: bundling (unbundled pricing) should be used if and only if the complementarity is specific (general). Finally, we find that bundling may be socially optimal because it allows entrants to challenge incumbents in markets with network effects, thereby expanding the complementary benefits enjoyed by consumers. This finding contrasts wit the standard view of regulators, who see bundling as a way to foreclose entry and prevent competition, as in the recent case of the European Commission vs. Google.
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