It isn't the first time that the notions of platform and the two-sided market have been discussed in this journal. However, the increasing controversy about the status of GAFA, as well as what some would see as a kind of paradox, i.e. the emergence of new players who, by offering an intermediation platform, are jostling with the powers that be in sectors like transport and hotels, seemed to warrant a dossier entirely devoted to economic analysis of these notions.
The particular market configuration that links two or more players through the mediation of a platform (an intermediary) existed before the Internet. But it has taken on a much bigger dimension, as was first noted when issues were raised about the "free" model that seemed to accompany the launch of Internet services, followed by questions about the dominant positions acquired ("first mover takes all").
In this context, the concept quickly began to interfere in regulatory debates, especially in the telecommunications sector. As we've seen in the controversy between telcos and OTT over the concept of Net neutrality: the "free access" of OTT to telcos customers would be nothing less than recognition of the effectiveness of a model that enables operators to monetize their access services with an increasingly numerous clientele ... The asymmetry of the platforms' own pricing strategies has also been highlighted in discussions on roaming, pointing out the risks of regulatory intervention which, in telephony, would only focus on lower tariffs for terminating rates without taking into account the "waterbed" effect of these provisions on the other side, i.e. that of the price paid by the consumers who generate the calls ...
The platform concept also raises interesting analysis in terms of business strategy, with the work on "open innovation". This means that, in a given regulatory context (degree of "multi-homing"), questions need be raised about the expected benefits of opening up a platform and its attendant conditions (pricing and contractual terms in general) to capture the innovation potential of outside firms and make the platform more or less inescapable.
Finally, I would like to add that the notion of platform is more and more used in a somewhat systematic, often confused way in commentaries about the Internet economy, and exploited to legitimate specific, ex ante regulations rather than seeking to proportionally implement the various laws that may apply.
So these are some of the reasons that prompted us to proposing this dossier. I'd like to thank the editors who accompanied us in drafting the call for papers. I'd also like to express my gratitude to the authors who bowed to the constraints of the review and the deadlines for publication.
Our next issue will be marked No. 100. We wanted this "Jubilee" edition to deal with a subject that goes far beyond the circle of economists specialised in the sectorial topics typically addressed in our dossiers. For this we've chosen a subject that mobilizes many economists, and on a broader scale, the public debate, by asking the question: to what extent does economic innovation deliver its promises in terms of productivity, growth and jobs?
While waiting to discover this issue, I wish you very pleasant reading!
Executive Director of Publication--CEO, IDATE