I'd mentioned it before its release, but Chris Anderson's new book, the Long Tail, is out now. Its a good read - though perhaps a little long on hyperbole and projection, and a little short on connecting to business.
There's an somewhat not unfairly critical article of Chris Anderson's book from Lee Gomes, of the Wall Street Journal. He contends that the long tail is, perhaps, a bit of an industry myth, much like "Internet Time" and other Bubble economy fun.
For example (from the article):
- In the category of online music, services like Ecast, Rhapsody, are finding that 12% to 22% of songs never get played, and another 19% (or so) only get one or two plays.
- Bloglines., which has 1.2M “real” blogs (i.e. not machine generated) in its catalog finds that 10% of blogs are 88% of its subscriptions, while 35% have no subscriptions at all.
- Most condemningly, for Amazon (the quintissential "long tail" company) 2.7% of purchases account for 75% of its revenue.
- And we see even with search that 75% of user click-thrus resolve to just the top 100,000 domains (of about 50M or so).
Boy, that all sounds likethe Pareto priniciple in action to me (AKA the 80/20 rule).
So what's up with that?
As Lee Gomes points out, monetization, if anything, seems to be even MORE crystalized along the 80/20 rule axis; only a few companies are really deriving financial benefit as "pure" plays.
Nevertheless, creating engagement, I'll argue, requires serving fragmentation (even if its only percieved) - and ultimately, the money follows that.