Jeffrey Church and Neil Gandal

Systems Competition, Vertical Merger, and Foreclosure

We address the possibility of foreclosure in markets where the final good consists of a system composed of a hardware good and complementary software and the value of the system depends on the availability of software. Foreclosure occurs when a hardware firm merges with a software firm and the integrated firm makes its software incompatible with a rival technology or system. We find that foreclosure can be an equilibrium outcome where both the merger and compatibility decisions are part of a multistage game which permits the foreclosed hardware firm to play a number of counter-strategies. Further, foreclosure can be an effective strategy to monopolize the hardware market.