I take a fairly non-academic view of price discrimination–which is to say that if sellers want to practice it by imposing hurdles (like coupons or happy hours) that’s fine, because the hurdles apply to everyone and buyers can choose whether or not to impose them. In other words, the seller presents the array of prices and it’s the buyer who makes the discriminating decisions. I’m fairly nervous about seller-imposed price discrimination.
For instance, should Amazon be allowed to charge different prices for streamable content based on your browser? Or your OS? Maybe. How about your IP address? Or your sex? Or your race?
The reason these sorts of price discriminations make me uncomfortable is because once you allow the seller to start walking down that road, what’s to stop a company from instituting punitive pricing on groups they find distasteful, like, say, people who live in Utah. Or people whom they suspect to be opponents of gay marriage. (And if you think tech companies–even publicly-traded ones–would worry about alienating customers by pursuing political agendas, you probably haven’t been paying close attention.)
All of this is just wind-up to this academic-ish piece on the future of price discrimination in Forbes. I’d be very interested in Galley Friend Gabriel Rossman’s thoughts on it.