America OnLine's Internet access service : How to deter unwanted customers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

10 Scopus Citations
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Author(s)

  • Hemant K. Bhargava
  • Juan Feng

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-48
Journal / PublicationElectronic Commerce Research and Applications
Volume4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

Abstract

Some dial-up Internet access providers, such as the market leader America OnLine (AOL), require customers to install proprietary connection software to use their service. This is puzzling, because while the software helps certain users, it creates disutility for others (especially expert users and early adopters of Internet service). Why, then, does AOL insist on this connection manager? Why not also offer a standardized service with Internet access and AOL-managed service to the power users? This paper proposes different possible explanations for why firms might willfully create barriers to entry for customers by forcibly bundling a feature that is negatively valued by a customer segment. We postulate that AOL wants to limit sales to unprofitable customers such as IT-savvy expert users. In the absence of other viable mechanisms for screening out such customers, AOL's product design may be viewed as a smart approach to solve the adverse selection problem: the connection manager reduces valuations of IT-savvy users, making the service unattractive to them. A second possibility is that AOL considers IT-savvy users undesirable because their presence might cause novice users to learn to manage without AOL's proprietary software; these customers might switch to the cheaper access-only option in future periods. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Citation Format(s)

America OnLine's Internet access service : How to deter unwanted customers. / Bhargava, Hemant K.; Feng, Juan.

In: Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2005, p. 35-48.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review