Two new articles on app economics and platform power

Summer means writing and… publishing papers. This month we have for you a paper for the world-renowned Canadian Journal of Communication. Recently, they launched their new Policy Portal, which aims to “provide a space for publishing timely research based on policy contributions and analysis.” We contributed an article that takes a deeper look at Canada’s National Digital and Data Consultations (NDDC).

Here’s the citation: Nieborg, D.B., Young, C and D. Joseph. (2019) Lost in the App Store: The Political Economy of the Canadian Game App Economy. Canadian Journal of Communication. 44(2): 57-62.

Here’s the abstract: “This commentary discusses the political economy of apps. The authors found that Canadian-made game apps are notably absent in the Canadian App Store. This should be both worrying and surprising, as Canada has a relatively sizable game industry. While policy conversations on digital transformation focus on emerging technology, the authors point toward the power and politics of digital platforms as one of the key issues preventing growth in the Canadian digital economy.”

And you can download the PDF here.

To stay within the realm of media and information policy, we also published a piece for the Internet Policy Review, a journal on internet regulation. This article is part of a special issue called “Transnational materialities“. Our contribution is the first article in a series of publications that aims to (re)conceptualize and analyze the notion of ‘platform power’.

Here’s the citation: van Dijck, J. & Nieborg, D. & Poell, T. (2019). Reframing platform power. Internet Policy Review, 8(2). DOI: 10.14763/2019.2.1414.

It’s an open access journal, you can read the article online or download the PDF here.

Here’s the abstract: This article addresses the problem of platform power by probing current regulatory frameworks’ basic assumptions about how tech firms operate in digital ecosystems. Platform power is generally assessed in terms of economic markets in which individual corporate actors harness technological innovations to compete fairly, thereby maximising consumer welfare. We propose three paradigmatic shifts in the conceptualisation of platform power. First, we suggest to expand the notion of consumer welfare to citizen wellbeing, hence addressing a broader scope of platform services’ beneficiaries. Second, we recommend considering platform companies as part of an integrated platform ecosystem, acknowledging its interrelational, dynamic structure. And third, we shift attention from markets as level playing fields towards societal platform infrastructures where hierarchies and dependencies are built into their architecture. Reframing platform power may be a necessary condition for updating and integrating current regulatory regimes and policy proposals.

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