To create attractive mobile apps in the competitive mobile market, developers are increasingly leveraging third-party software development kits (SDKs) in app development. However, little is known about how using third-party toolkits affects app performance. Drawing on the platform literature and the boundary object theory, we conceptualize third-party SDK utilization as a boundary-spanning activity. Based on this, we theorize its impact on app performance, considering the mobile platform and app developers as contextual factors. We examine the causal influence of third-party SDKs on app performance by conducting difference-in-difference-style analyses on a longitudinal dataset of mobile apps released on the Apple App Store and Google Play. We find empirical evidence supporting our theoretical conjectures that utilizing more third-party SDKs increases active users. More interestingly, platform updates and developer platform-specific experience attenuate this positive impact. This study contributes to the platform-based innovation and governance literature and provides managerial implications in mobile domains.


Paper Number 1437; Track Platforms; Complete Paper



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