Pricing of Complementary Goods and Network Effects

By Nicholas EconomidesV. Brian Viard
2006| Working Paper No. 1812

We discuss the case of a monopolist of a base good in the presence of a complementary good provided either by it or by another firm. We assess and calibrate the extent of the influence of the profits from the base good that is created by the existence of complementary good, i.e., the extent of the network effect. We establish an equivalence between a model of a base and a complementary good and a reduced-form model of the base good in which network effects are assumed in the consumers’ utility functions as a surrogate for the presence of direct or indirect network effects, such as complementary goods produced by other firms. We also assess and calibrate the influence on profits of the intensity of network effects and quality improvements in both goods. We evaluate the incentive that a monopolist of the base good has to improve its quality rather than that of the complementary good under different market structures. Finally, based on our results, we discuss a possible explanation of the fact that Microsoft Office has a significantly higher price that Microsoft Windows although both products have comparable market shares.

network effects
complementary goods