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Innovators in electronic markets: suppliers or middlemen

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This paper examines the manner in which an innovator should organize the sale of an electronic innovation. A traditional approach for the innovator is to act as a supplier and sell the innovation outright to the downstream firms. Netscape, for example, sells its Biller Expert software to firms so that they can independently offer on-line billing service to their customers. An alternate approach is for the innovator to act as a middleman and determine the level of service quality that is ultimately provided to end-consumers. For example, CheckFree Corp. (chich manages electronic billings for financial institutions) is involved in the operation of the service itself and it actively decides on the level of service that is provided to end-consumers.

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