The Long Tail

26 04 2007

The long tail theory is used to describe the market behaviour since the digitalization of sell-buy processes. In few words (you can read the entire book by Chris Anderson “The Long Tail” and take a look to the site ) the theory explain the recent tendency of niche products to emerge and have a larger market share respect to blockbuster. These is true for a lot of categories of products (potentially all) and is related to the fact that with the digitalization of marketplaces the availability and easiness of search and find every sort of product have no physical constraints. The classic example is the library where, due to a limited physical space on the shelves, 80% of them are stocked with bestsellers and no space is reserved for niche editors and books whereas on Amazon virtual shelves you can find everything published (nearly).

It’s also true that many of the products related to web 2.0 communities and user generated contents respect the theory and have a market share, instead of nothing. But is also true that big players have lost market share respect to the niches? Or the expansion of markets make the big even bigger?

Considering the Internet world and big players and using the site “traffic” as a measure, the difference between the top and the tail is so huge that it seems to me that the tail is so thin that it can’t survive for long and is not relevant neither to the tail itself.

On the other hand big players needs the tail. Consider Google, indexing is necessary because of the existence of a huge number of niche web pages. A symbiosis, it seems, as people expect to find “products” customised or customizable to their exact needs. Massification of customizations. But the products range and the players are going to increase? Or the usual big-fish will eat the small becoming bigger and massify the niche? Is the future peer to peer market? Or is it just an illusion? Help needed.