We study the profitability of bundling by an upstream firm who licenses com-plementary technologies to downstream competitors, and who faces a superior competitor for one of its technologies. In an otherwise standard “Chicago-style” model, we show that the existence of downstream competition can make inefficient bundling profitable. Forcing downstream firms to use a less efficient technology can soften competition, thus allowing the upstream firm to extract more profit through the licensing of its monopolized technology. Bundling is more likely to be profitable if downstream competition is intense and if technologies are strongly complementary. The mechanism requires a public commitment to bundling (e.g. technical bundling) and the unobservability of the contracts offered to downstream firms. A similar logic can make it profitable for the upstream firm to degrade the interoperability between its technologies and those of its rivals, even without foreclosing competition.
TSE Working Paper, n. 23-1403, January 2023