Planned Obsolescence with Network Effects

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This paper appeals to the interplay between network effects and quality to justify the use of planned obsolescence by well-settled firms. We propose a simple contagion model to analyze an asymmetric duopoly market where an incumbent firm benefits, at least initially, from the first‐mover advantages attributed to network industries, while the entrant offers a product with higher quality. The simpler version of the model describes the evolution of the market shares, showing that network effects can overtake the quality effect if the market is sufficiently small. If the market lasts enough, network effects end up enhancing the effect of quality and the entrant gets a higher market share. If the incumbent can set the size of the market by launching a new product every so often, the model provides a rationale for the use of planned obsolescence from a strategic point of view. Social efficiency is then challenged.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-247
JournalReview of Network Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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