Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Hanna Halaburda (Strategy Unit, Harvard University) and Yaron Yehezkel (The Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration, Tel Aviv University) explain Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information.

ABSTRACT: In the context of platform competition in a two-sided market, we study how ex-ante uncertainty and ex-post asymmetric information concerning the value 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 to a market failure: Competition results in a lower quantity and lower welfare than a monopoly. We consider two applications of the model. First, we consider multi-homing. We find that multi-homing solves the market failure resulting from asymmetric information. However, if platforms can impose exclusive dealing, then they will do so, which result in market inefficiency. Second, the model provides a new argument for why it is usually entrants, not incumbents, that bring major technological innovations to the market.

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