lock-in
n. A state in which excessive costs associated with replacing existing systems prevent a company from switching technologies.

Example Citations:
Technology firms, he said, strove to innovate precisely because “lock-in“, with its huge cash windfalls, was a potential prize for their endeavours.
—Mark Tran, “ American Notebook: Fairness comes last for Microsoft,“ The Guardian (London), November 17, 1997

The model, championed by the Santa Fe Institute‘s Brian Arthur, among others, doesn‘t accept laissez-faire‘s traditional checks and balances. Instead, the concept of increasing returns allows that small, random events occurring at critical historical moments can determine choices in technology that are extremely difficult and expensive to change, resulting in a “lock-in“ of inferior products.
—James Daly, “The Robin Hood of the rich,“ Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), September 2, 1997

Earliest Citation:
With the disdain of a narcotics cop, Mr. DeLamarter describes the process, known as “software lock-in,“ that got a customer hooked on IBM computers.

A corporation can‘t easily change its equipment after it has invested a large sum in developing programs for a specific vendor‘s hardware and has automated a lot of jobs. The trick is to get the first investment.
—Michael Kesterton, “How pious Big Blue turns others green with envy,“ The Globe and Mail (Canada), January 24, 1987

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