Commercialization of Platform Technologies: Launch Timing and Versioning Strategy
Commercial success of technology products requires astute business practices related to product line design, price discrimination, and launch timing. We examine these issues for a platform firm that serves two markets—labeled as user and developer markets—such that the size of each market positively impacts partici- pation in the other. We demonstrate that product versioning is an especially attractive strategy for platform firms, that is, the trade-off between market size and margins is tilted in the direction of more versions. However, when expanding the product line carries substantial fixed costs (e.g., marketing cost, cost of additional plant, increased distribution cost), then the uncertainty in developer participation adversely impacts the firm’s ability to offer multiple versions. We show that for established firms with lower uncertainty about developer participation, the choice is essentially between an expanded or minimal product line.