عنوان مقاله [English]
The application of competition rules in legal systems necessitates defining the market and measuring market power. These two prerequisites form the basis for enforcing competition laws, and their regulation becomes increasingly crucial with the expansion of internet-based platform businesses and their impact on consumer rights. This research addresses the challenges in setting prerequisites for applying competition rules in digital platforms and offers new solutions.
The traditional approach to competition analysis involves defining the relevant market and assessing market power. However, the unique characteristics of digital platforms present obstacles in achieving these objectives. To establish rules governing market definition and market power measurement, a three-step process is proposed. Firstly, the traditional rules for market definition and market power measurement in conventional businesses are examined, as they are commonly used in judicial authorities. Secondly, the specific competitive challenges in digital platforms are assessed to identify cases where traditional criteria fall short in providing
prerequisites. Finally, new criteria for market definition and market power measurement in digital platforms are proposed.
The research reveals that both market definition and market power measurement in platform businesses face significant challenges. Defining the market in digital platforms proves difficult due to the inability to assert that virtual and traditional businesses coexist within the same market. Additionally, the traditional product and market scope determination method (SSNIP test) may not apply to two/multi-modal platforms and platforms offering products with zero prices. Furthermore, traditional indicators for calculating the market area, such as "transportation" and "main area," do not apply to virtual markets with cross-border transactions.
Measuring market power in digital platforms presents its own challenges. Relying solely on income as a criterion is inadequate, as it cannot be compared to other factors like the number of active users, volume of traffic, or time spent on the platform. Furthermore, using income to determine market share is not applicable to platforms with zero-priced products. Measuring product demand elasticity using the Lerner index is also hindered by the zero marginal cost of many platforms. Moreover, identifying effective entry barriers specific to digital platforms and devising mechanisms for measuring them presents a challenge not yet addressed by legal systems.
To overcome these challenges and provide new criteria for market definition in digital platforms, a three-step process is proposed. The identification of non-linear value chains helps identify platform components. Assessing whether each component constitutes a separate market or a part of the same market relies on their correlation and their contribution to specific services. To address challenges in defining the product and scope, the research suggests using the SSNDQ test (small but significant and stable reduction in quality) instead of the SSNIP test. Criteria such as "service speed," "data protection," "privacy protection," "exchange cost," "negotiation cost," and "search cost" can measure the quality of service provision in digital platforms.
For measuring market power in digital platforms, distinguishing between "transaction-based platforms" and "audience-based platforms" is suggested. The "users' payment" criterion, instead of platform income, can determine market share using indicators like the number of users, traffic volume, time spent, and number of visits. Recognizing new structural and strategic entry barriers in digital platforms within relevant laws and regulations is crucial. Evaluating the three-stage process of "possibility of entry," "possibility of competitive influence," and "possibility of limiting market power" in platform markets offers potential solutions to measuring market power in this context.