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Paperback | $20.00 Short | £13.95 | ISBN: 9780262681384 | 256 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 17 illus.| January 2003
eBook | $14.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262254304 | 256 pp. | 17 illus.| January 2003
About MIT Press eBooks

Bandwagon Effects in High Technology Industries

Foreword by Hal R. Varian


Economists use the term "bandwagon effect" to describe the benefit a consumer enjoys as a result of others’ using the same product or service. The history of videocassettes offers a striking example of the power of bandwagon effects. Originally there were two technical standards for videocassettes in the United States: Beta and VHS. Beta was widely regarded to have better picture quality, but VHS could record longer television programs. Eventually the selection of Beta cassettes shrank to zero, leaving consumers no choice but to get on the VHS bandwagon. The most successful bandwagon, apart from telephone service, is the Internet.In this book Jeffrey Rohlfs shows how the dynamics of bandwagons differ from those of conventional products and services. They are difficult to get started and often fail before getting under way. A classic example of a marketing failure is the Picturephone, introduced by the Bell System in the early 1970s. Rohlfs describes the fierce battles waged by competitors when new services are introduced, as well as cases of early agreement on a single technical standard, as with CDs and CD players. He also discusses the debate among economists and policy analysts over the advantages and disadvantages of having governments set technical standards. The case studies include fax machines, telephones, CD players, VCRs, personal computers, television, and the Internet.

About the Author

Jeffrey H. Rohlfs is a Principal at Strategic Policy Research in Bethesda, Maryland.


"This book is a gem; Rohlf’s writing is straightforward and very readable. The book is timely because its subject matter is at the heart of e-commerce."--Edward E. Zajac, Department of Economics, University of Arizona"—
"A witty and accessible introduction to bandwagon and network effects by one of the true pioneers in the field. The book surveys theory and practice to draw out practical lessons of interest to business and government decision makers alike."--Michael Katz, Edward J. and Mollie Arnold Professor of Business Administration, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley"—
"Jeffrey Rohlfs was a major early contributor to the theory of network effects, and here he combines sensible theory with thoughtful case studies. Everyone interested in innovation and competition will find value in this book."--Joseph Farrell, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice"—


Chosen as a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s 2001 Book of the Year Awards (BOTYA) in the category of Business.