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Platform Architecture and Quality Tradeoffs of Multihoming Complements

Authors/Editors: Cennamo, C.
Kretschmer, T.
Özalp, H.
Published: 2018
Type: Articles in Refereed Journals (International)
Published by: Information Systems Research

Abstract

Multihoming, the decision to design a complement to operate on multiple platforms, is becoming increasingly common in many platform markets. Perceived wisdom suggests that multihoming is beneficial for complement providers as they expand their market reach, but it reduces differentiation among competing platforms as the same complements become available on different platforms. We argue that complement providers face trade-offs when designing their products for multiple platform architectures—they must decide how far to specialize the complement to each platform’s technological specifications. Because of these trade-offs, multihoming complements can have different quality performance across platforms. In a study of the U.S. video game industry, we find that multihoming games have lower-quality performance on a technologically more complex console than on a less complex one. Also, games designed for and released on a focal platform have lower-quality performance on platforms they are subsequently multihomed to. However, games that are released on the complex platform with a delay suffer a smaller drop in quality on complex platforms. This has important implications for platform competition, and for managers considering expanding their reach through multihoming.