lunes, 28 de febrero de 2011

¿Competencia entre aplicaciones o competencia entre plataformas?

Este artículo de Benjamin E. Hermalin and Michael L. Katz PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION THROUGH EXCLUSIVITY: Is there a One-Market-Power-Rent Theorem? permite aprender algunas cosas a los juristas que se dedican a Derecho de la Competencia. Analiza si puede haber ganancias de eficiencia en el hecho de que los titulares de plataformas (por ejemplo, para videojuegos XBoX; Playstation y Nintendo) celebren contratos con los productores de videojuegos de manera que solo puedan jugarse en sus plataformas. La intuición dice que estas exclusivas elevan los precios. Lo que no es tan claro es que los consumidores resulten perjudicados por tales exclusivas: menos competencia en precios pero más competencia entre plataformas. Si es mejor para los consumidores que haya más plataformas (aunque no sean tan diferentes si no fuera por las aplicaciones), las exclusivas pueden ser buenas.
We identify three mechanisms through which exclusive arrangements between platforms and applications can affect competition and welfare. First, and most obviously, exclusive arrangements limit the ability of consumers to mix and match components. For a given set of products and prices, this limitation reduces welfare. Second, we show that, when otherwise undifferentiated platforms can differentiate themselves through exclusive deals with differentiated applications, equilibrium prices under platform competition are higher than they otherwise would be. The softening of price competition leads to a third effect: the market equilibrium may support a larger number of platforms than when there are no exclusive arrangements. In the presence of fixed costs, platform providers must be able to charge prices greater than average variable cost in order to earn non-negative profits. When the same applications are available on multiple (undifferentiated) platforms, competition drives prices toward marginal cost. Consequently, the market equilibrium with non-exclusive applications may support only one provider. By softening price competition, exclusive arrangements can lead to (softened) platform competition instead of platform monopoly. Hence, when viewed in the context of the full process of entry and pricing, exclusive arrangements can lead to greater competition and lower prices. We show that the net effects of exclusive arrangements on consumer surplus and total surplus can be positive or negative, depending on the parameter values.
De paso, sirve para entender el famoso “one-monopoloy-rent-theorem”
The One-Monopoly-Rent Theorem concerns situations in which: (a) two goods are consumed in fixed proportions; (b) one good is supplied by a constant-returns, perfectly competitive industry; and (c) the other good is supplied by a monopolist. The theorem states that the monopolist has no incentive to engage in the tying of the two goods in order to “leverage” its monopoly from one market to the other. It is well known that the theorem does not extend to situations in which (a) or (b) are violated. When the two goods are consumed in variable proportions, bundling can be used as a vehicle for rent extraction by the monopolist (see, e.g., Burstein, 1960). When there is imperfect competition in the non-monopolized market, it can be profitable to engage in “strategic foreclosure” that weakens a duopoly rival and allows the supplier with a monopoly in one market to earn higher profits in the imperfectly competitive market (see Whinston, 1990).
Y concluyen que no se aplica al caso de la relación entre plataformas y aplicaciones:
The analysis (particularly that of the component pricing model) also demonstrates that there is no One-Market-Power-Rent Theorem analogous to the One-Monopoly-Rent Theorem. That is, an imperfectly competitive supplier (applications in our model) can increase its profits by tying its product to a good that would otherwise be competitively supplied. This is an important limitation of the One-Monopoly-Rent Theorem because most firms are not literal monopolies.

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