Konstantinos Serfes and Eleftherios Zacharias

Early entrants in markets with network effects usually occupy a “central location” and serve agents with “intermediate tastes,” whereas later entrants are niche players. Why would the first entrant choose to become a “general” network, given that later entrants will not have enough room for differentiation, resulting in a more intense competition for market share? In a Hotelling model with two rival networks, we show that for intermediate values of the network externality parameter the location equilibrium is indeed asymmetric: the first entrant locates at the center whereas the second entrant chooses an extreme (niche) location.