Drawing a line in the sand: Commitment problem in ending software support

Abhijeet Ghoshal, Atanu Lahiri, Debabrata Dey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the commitment problem faced by a software vendor in ending critical support, in the presence of network security risks. When releasing a new version of a product, in order to drive up its demand, the vendor must cease supporting the old version. However, the vendor's ability to leverage the increased demand can be limited because of a commitment problem. For, when the demand increases and the vendor accordingly sets a higher price, many consumers might opt not to upgrade, creating a situation where stopping securityrelated support simply becomes too risky. To avoid this risk and any subsequent losses in reputation, the vendor can renege on its earlier decision to stop support. We show that this commitment problem hurts the vendor's profitability and find that the no-commitment equilibrium profit can surprisingly increase with the cost to extend support. Accordingly, we propose a commitment mechanism. Further, the consumer surplus may actually increase if the vendor desists from crossing the proverbial line in the sand and discontinues support as planned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1227-1248
Number of pages22
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Analytical modeling
  • Commitment problem
  • Economics of IS
  • Game theory
  • Patching
  • Pricing
  • Security
  • Software support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management

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