Forking, fragmentation, and splintering

Timothy Simcoe, Jeremy Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although economic theory suggests that markets may “tip” toward a dominant platform or standard, there are many prominent examples of persistent incompatibility, interplatform competition, and standards proliferation. This paper examines the phenomena of forking, fragmentation, and splintering in markets with network effects. We illustrate several causes of miscoordination, as well as the tools that firms and industries use to fight it, through short cases of standardization in railroad gauges, modems, operating systems, instant messaging, and internet browsers. We conclude by discussing managerial implications and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalStrategy Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2019 INFORMS.


  • Compatibility
  • Forking
  • Network effects
  • Platforms
  • Standards


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