The Move To Smart Mobile Platforms: Implications For Antitrust Analysis Of Online Markets In Developed And Developing Countries
Hemant Bhargava
David S. Evans
Deepa Mani
Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Online markets have changed as a result of people shifting massively from using one platform, personal computers and browsers, to another, comprising mobile devices and apps. These changes cover leading online players, consumer behavior, and products. The use of mobile apps, and the speed of change, vary between countries and in particular between countries based on their stage of development. Mobile app use is lower in developing countries, such as India, than in developed ones, such as the United States. However, as smart mobile phones with mobile broadband connections become ubiquitous among consumers in developing countries, mobile app use in these countries is likely to leapfrog the use of personal computers and browsers. As a result of the movement to smart mobile, the analysis of markets that might have made sense several years ago, does not today, and will make even less sense several years hence. These dramatic and unpredictable changes pose several issues for antitrust. They show that antitrust analysis that focuses on static markets is highly prone to error when it comes to dynamic online industries, that authorities risk making assumptions during investigations that are disproven by the markets soon after they have brought charges or decided a case, and antitrust remedies are prone to be ineffective or harmful because they are developed for markets during the investigation but are radically different by the time the remedies are implemented.