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network externality

A situation in which the price somebody is willing to pay to gain access to a network is based solely on the number of other people who are currently using it. Fax machines and Internet email are prime examples. The more people who use the services, the more others are willing to use it. See network effect.

network effect

The resulting increased value of a product because more and more people use it. Telephones, fax machines, computer operating systems and smartphones have been prime examples. A product's success is more about compatibility and less about its superiority to the competition. For example, Microsoft became hugely successful due to the network effect, because more and more people bought Windows PCs, and developers began to write programs for Windows only or at least much earlier than for the Mac version. In contrast, owing to the network effect, the company has also suffered, because although Nokia Windows Phones are excellent devices, they have a tiny market share compared to iPhone and Android, and fewer developers create apps for Windows Phones as a result. See tipping point and network externality.

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