Experimental Evidence on Product Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities

Sujoy Chakravarty (2003) “Experimental Evidence on Product Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities." Review of Industrial Organization, Volume 23, Numbers 3-4, 233-254, DOI: 10.1023/B:REIO.0000031367.79009.9b.


The benefits accruing to a purchaser of a product due to the existing base of consumers of the same or compatible products are known as network externalities. This paper studies Katz and Shapiro’s (1986) model of network externalities in an experimental setting. Two sellers choose prices for competing technologies sold to two groups of four buyers purchasing sequentially in two stages. The results are qualitatively consistent with Katz and Shapiro’s equilibrium predictions. In certain sessions over three-quarters of first stage buyers purchase the more expensive technology anticipating that later arriving buyers will also buy this technology. In periods where a strong network has been established for a technology in the first stage, over 80 percent of second stage buyers buy that technology, even though in most cases it is priced higher. The data, however, differ from the point predictions of the model.