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Having a large number of applications in the marketplace is considered a critical success factor for software ecosystems. The number of applications has been claimed to determine which ecosystems holds the greatest competitive advantage and will eventually dominate the market. This paper investigates the influence of developer multi-homing (i.e., participating in more than one ecosystem) in three leading mobile application ecosystems. Our results show that when regarded as a whole, mobile application ecosystems are single-homing markets. The results further show that 3% of all developers generate more than 80% of installed applications and that multi-homing is common among these developers. Finally, we demonstrate that the most installed content actually comprises only a small number of the potential value propositions. The results thus imply that attracting and maintaining developers of superstar applications is more critical for the survival of a mobile application ecosystem than the overall number of developers and applications. Hence, the mobile ecosystem is unlikely to become a monopoly. Since exclusive contracts between application developers and mobile application ecosystems are rare, multi-homing is a viable component of risk management and a publishing strategy. The study advances the theoretical understanding of the influence of multi-homing on competition in software ecosystems.
- software ecosystem
- two-sided markets
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