Comparing monopoly platforms reveals that for a given level of user and developer adoption, investment incentives are stronger in proprietary platforms. However, open platforms may receive larger investment because they may benefit from wider adoption, which raises the returns to quality investment. Evolving Pictures Entertainment finds that proprietary platforms may benefit from higher investment in competing open platforms when developers multi-home, a result that helps explain why a proprietary platform such as Microsoft has chosen to contribute to the development of Linux.
This analysis provides answers to three important questions:
1) How are the incentives to invest in platform quality affected by the degree of platform openness?
2) Which of these two modes of governance leads the investment closer to social optimum?
3) How are incentives to invest in platform quality moderated by competition between proprietary and open two-sided platforms?
Evolving Pictures Entertainment recognizes that while Proprietary and open-source software have co-existed since the early days of the computing industry, competition between these two modes of development have intensified dramatically following the surge of the Internet in the mid-1990's. This information provides a first step to better understand incentives to invest in proprietary and open platforms. Let's examine a model of proprietary and an open-source two-sided platform to study equilibrium investment in platform quality.
Investment Incentives in Proprietary and Open-Source Two-Sided Platforms
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* Through access prices, a monopolistic proprietary platform can ensure that a particular level of investment in platform quality takes place regardless of how much users pay for applications.
* Quality investments in open platforms may be larger than proprietary platforms, due to larger user and developer entry. Therefore, open platforms may lead to investments in platform quality closer to social efficiency.
* When developers multi-home, the proprietary platform may benefit from higher quality investment in a competing open-source platform. This result explains why proprietary firms may choose to contribute to the development of competing open-source platforms.