E-commerce. Los monopolios de Internet.

Este artículo recientemente publicado sobre viene muy a cuento de todo lo que hemos venido hablando en los últimos días sobre Google y sus últimos cambios en su buscador de imágenes.

Título. Google, Facebook, Amazon, E-bay. ¿ Is the internet driving competition or market monopolization ?

Abstract.

This paper discusses the general characteristics of online markets from a
competition theory perspective and the implications for competition policy. Three important Internet markets are analyzed in more detail: search engines, online auction platforms, and social networks. Given the high level of market concentration and the development of competition over time, we use our theoretical insights to examine whether leading Internet platforms have non-temporary market power. Based on this analysis we answer the question whether any specific market regulation beyond general competition law rules is warranted in these three online markets.

El autor es un investigador del Dusseldorf Institute for Competition Economics. Debemos de considerar por lo tanto que este paper se enmarca en la competición que existe entre los diferentes bloques económicos (EEUU, UE, China, Rusia etc…) por dominar los mercados digitales. Hablamos por lo tanto del Imperialismo Computacional.

Cómo es sabido esta batalla ha sido perdida por las empresas de la UE desde hace tiempo, entre otras cosas por una deficiente legislación sobre IP relativa a temas informáticos y sólo quedaría el recurso a la intervención del sector público. Sin embargo, cómo se verá las conclusiones no van en ese sentido.  Muy buen artículo.

Extracto.

On the one hand, it is rather obvious that many very successful Internet-based companies are nearly monopolists. Google, Youtube, Facebook, Skype, are typical examples for Internet firms who dominate their relevant markets and who leave only limited space for a relatively small competitive fringe. Furthermore, most of these providers do not generate content themselves, but “only” provide access to different content on the Internet. On the other hand, the crucial question from a competition policy perspective is not so much whether these firms have such a dominant position today, but rather why they have such a large market share and whether this is a temporary or non-temporary phenomenon. Do these Internet monopolies enjoy a dominant position because they are protected from competition though barriers to entry or do they just enjoy the profits of superior technology and innovation? Are we observing some sort of Schumpeterian competition where one temporary monopoly is followed by another, with innovation as the driving competitive force, or are we dealing with monopoly firms that mainly try to foreclose their markets through anticompetitive behavior? These are the key questions of this paper.

Ya se ve que los nombres son todos de empresas hoy globales pero que han emergido en EEUU (salvo skype, que la acabó comprnado una empresa de EEUU).

The remainder of the paper now proceeds as follows:

–In the next section, we discuss major features of online markets to lay the theoretical foundations to explain the high concentration levels often observed, using the by now well established theory of two-sided markets

–Building on these insights, three particular online markets are analyzed, where competition and consumer protection concerns have recently been most acute, namely search engine services, online auctions, and social networks. These platforms are good examples for online markets that are characterized by dominant firms or almost monopolies, and the three markets can be ideally related to the theoretical discussion.

–Based on our discussion of these markets, the need for enhanced market regulation will be analyzed.

–The last section concludes. 

Aparece un cuadro muy interesante de cuotas de mercado de buscadores por países. Sólo la más poderosa herramienta  de fraccionamiento de mercados, la lengua, ha conseguido romper el monopolio global de Google: fuera de la angloesfera, en China, Japón,  o Rusia su cuota es mucho menor (debido al idioma empezaron su expansión más tarde)

Extracto de las conclusiones.

 It is not possible to generalize with respect to the degree of competition in online markets. While some markets tend to lean towards high concentration ratios, the strong market position of Google and Facebook do not necessarily need to be longlasting. While in Google’s case, switching costs for consumers are low so that Google has to defend its position against continuous innovation and entry, the wealth of its historic search data gives Google still a major advantage for further improving its search algorithm, holding on to its competitive advantages. In the case of Facebook, multi-homing is not too costly so that there is scope for further competition. The entry of Google+ in 2011 is an interesting development for competition, but the further development remains to be seen. In contrast, eBay has managed to hold on to its dominant position in the market for private online auctions which is difficult to contest, as sellers’ reputations are not transferable across platforms.

 Form a competition policy perspective it is important to recognize the role of direct and indirect network effects. If direct and indirect network effects play an important role in a particular online market, it is not clear ex ante whether a monopoly or a dominant market position is actually good or bad from an efficiency perspective. While some authors such as von Blanckenburg and Michaelis (2008a, 2008b) argue for a stronger market regulation of eBay, there are also good and valid counter-arguments, based on innovation incentives. In fact, many online markets have been characterized by a large degree of Schumpeterian competition where one dominant player follows the other. A notable exception has only been eBay which has managed to hold on to its dominant position for more than a decade now. Still, a more interventionist approach beyond the application of general competition law rules appears not to be warranted so far.

 Estoy completamente de acuerdo con las conclusiones. Falta completar el análisis con el líder de otro segmento de internet, el e-commerce y Amazon.

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