Research Summary: We examine the importance of office suites for the evolution of the personal computer (PC) office software market in the 1990s. An estimated discrete-choice model reveals a positive correlation of consumer values for spreadsheets and wordprocessors, a bonus value for suites, and advantages for Microsoft products. We employ the estimates to simulate various hypothetical market structures to evaluate the profitability, welfare, and competitive effects of suites under alternative correlation assumptions. We find that firms benefit greatly from bundling components (i.e., a spreadsheet and a word processor) when the correlation of consumer preferences over the components in the bundle is positive. Our work adds another aspect to the recent work in the strategy literature that examines benefits from bundling when there are complementary relationships across the products in the bundle. Managerial Summary: Our research helps managers understand the conditions under which product bundling is likely to be most profitable. We show that one key to enhanced profitability is the correlation in consumer preferences over the individual products. We consider the performance implications of bundling under a variety of alternative market structures and competitive environments. Our analysis reveals that firms benefit greatly from bundling when the correlation of consumer valuations over the products is positive. Consumers benefit as well. Hence, bundling is a win-win for firms and their customers. Since profits increase by more than consumer surplus, bundling leads to increased value capture by the firms. Consequently, it may be profitable for firms to invest in actively increasing the correlation in consumer preferences over products in the bundle.
- software market