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Radically Inept
Monday, October 18, 2004
  Wired on the jukebox

Something is going on with blogger. I'm not sure what changes they are making this time, but the interface is very different today, and many of the functions I've gotten used to using, don't appear to be available today. In fact, I'm resorting to manually inputting html, which was scary for a second there - I couldn't remember how to do quotes.

Anyway, this, The Long Tail, deals with a topic I've posted on here before, in The 'nickel transaction' and the 'penny transmission' and Back to the nickel transaction cost, though this is definitely a more well researched piece than my previous ramblings on the subject. It definitely goes into depth and explains much of the economics in it's five pages, and it is worth the read.

I particularly found these numbers interesting:
What's really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you've got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are (see "Anatomy of the Long Tail"). In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the economics of scarcity. Venture capitalist and former music industry consultant Kevin Laws puts it this way: "The biggest money is in the smallest sales."

The same is true for all other aspects of the entertainment business, to one degree or another. Just compare online and offline businesses: The average Blockbuster carries fewer than 3,000 DVDs. Yet a fifth of Netflix rentals are outside its top 3,000 titles. Rhapsody streams more songs each month beyond its top 10,000 than it does its top 10,000. In each case, the market that lies outside the reach of the physical retailer is big and getting bigger.

When you think about it, most successful businesses on the Internet are about aggregating the Long Tail in one way or another. Google, for instance, makes most of its money off small advertisers (the long tail of advertising), and eBay is mostly tail as well - niche and one-off products. By overcoming the limitations of geography and scale, just as Rhapsody and Amazon have, Google and eBay have discovered new markets and expanded existing ones.

This is the power of the Long Tail. The companies at the vanguard of it are showing the way with three big lessons. Call them the new rules for the new entertainment economy.
The rest is at The Long Tail.

Well whatever was going on with the system seems to have corrected itself in the time it took me to post and comeback for a quick re-edit. hmmm... 
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