Strategies for Two-Sided Markets

by Thomas Eisenmann, Geoffrey Parker, and Marshall W. Van Alstyne

IF YOU LISTED the blockbuster products and services that have redefined the global business landscape, you’d find that many of them tie together two distinct groups of users in a network. Case in point: What has been the most important innovation in financial services since World War II? Answer: almost certainly the credit card, which links consumers and merchants. Newspapers, HMOs, and computer operating systems also serve what economists call two-sided markets or two-sided networks. Newspapers, for instance, join subscribers and advertisers; HMOs link patients to a web of health care providers, and vice versa; operating systems connect computer ...

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