The Socio-Economic Impact of Online Platforms

The strong position of some online platforms like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) has triggered a public debate about their economic dominance, notorious data collection and massive pull on users. The White Book published by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) highlights just how important this matter is to policy makers in Germany.

Surprisingly, the public debate is more often than not void of scientific insights into the subject matter. There is a lack of evidence about the actual economic and societal impact of online platforms. Even a consistent and clear definition of online platforms is missing from the debate.

A proper analysis of online platforms and their impact is needed to correctly identify if there is any call to action for policy makers or regulators.

The present research brief provides an overview of the economic and societal impact of online platforms in Germany. It adheres to the economic definition of platforms as multi-sided markets. Consequently, the technological concept of platforms is not considered here.

Based on a comprehensive review of the economic literature, we develop a new approach that enables consistent analysis of online platform business models, taking full account of their complexity. Nonetheless, our approach is intuitive and easy to understand, making comparison of various online platforms straightforward.

More information can be found in WIK’s study on online platforms ...

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Dr. René Arnold
Phone: +49 2224 9225-25
Fax:     +49 2224 9225-69
r.arnold(at)wik.org

Christian Hildebrandt
Phone: +49 2224 9225-97
Fax:     +49 2224 9225-69
c.hildebrandt(at)wik.org