181 - Competition, bargaining power and pricing in two-sided markets

DNB Working Papers
Date 23 September 2008

We develop a model of two-sided markets that illustrates the role of bargaining power between the two sides of the market. We are interested in the profit maximizing usage fees set by identical duopolistic platforms which engage in homogeneous, Bertrand-type competition. We find that for a sufficiently low marginal cost duopolistic two-sided competition reduces to a “grab-the-dollar” game with two asymmetric (pure) Nash equilibria. These equilibria are characterized by highly skewed prices, in which the side with all the bargaining power pays a minimum price. The other side of the market is used for cross-subsidization and is charged a high price. Compared to the monopoly outcome, competition lowers the total price charged to both sides, although the seller’s equilibrium price may exceed the monopoly price. Both platforms enjoy excess profits. Key Words : platform competition, bargaining power, asymmetric equilibria, skewed pricing JEL Classification Code : L10, L13