Thesis defense of Joey van Angeren, January 30, 2019

On Wednesday, January 30, 2019, Joey van Angeren will defend his PhD thesis “Creating and Capturing Value from Digital Products: Implications of Business Model Choice and Product Positioning in the Mobile App Market”. This thesis has been supervised by prof.dr. F. Langerak and dr. K.S. Podoynitsyna. The ceremony will take place in the Collegezaal 4 of the Auditorium Building at the Eindhoven University of Technology at 11:00 hrs.


Fueled by digitization, a growing number of industries has become dominated by platforms, concomitantly contributing to the emergence of their associated marketplaces as increasingly prominent areas of business activity. Near-zero marginal costs of production and distribution around platforms tremendously deepen the pool of would-be producers of complementary products. However, such low entry barriers also imply that platform marketplaces tend to be highly competitive. Complementor firms have to position their complements relative to a multitude of rival complementors addressing the same consumer needs. Moreover, comparable complements abound, complementor firms are compelled to choose for business models somehow based on free product distribution, of which the performance implications are not yet well understood.

This dissertation addresses these issues by asking what are the consequences of competitive positioning and business model choice for the performance of complements in platform marketplaces? It does so through three independent empirical studies. Theoretically, in the tradition of the literature on platforms, each study adopts a distinct theoretical perspective, hailing from the management disciplines of organization theory, information systems, and strategy. Empirically, all three studies investigate the performance implications of competitive positioning or business model choice in the context of the U.S. storefront of Apple’s iOS App Store.

Taken together, the results from these three studies advance competitive positioning and business model choice as two critical antecedents of complementor performance. The results, among others, show significant heterogeneity in the performance of different business models, even in a sample of zero-priced complements. There is also evidence of a point of optimal distinctiveness in complement positioning that fluctuates under influence of different market characteristics.

This dissertation makes theoretical contributions to disparate literature streams in organization theory, information systems, and strategy. It also provides valuable insights for complementors and platform provider firms alike. To the interest of complementors, it provides guidelines concerning the creation and capture of value from complements in platform marketplaces. To the merit of platform provider firms, it captures some of the intricate competitive dynamics that characterize platform marketplaces.