Supernova: Chris Anderson (Wired): The Long Tail

Since Anderson published the original Long Tail chart, two things have changed. Firstly, the niche sellers in the long tail are selling more, so the tail is growing as a fraction of the whole. Moving from an era of mass markets to millions of niches.

1990: Explosion of products [numbers, not blowing products up]

Now: Explosion of information about products

Forces in the long tail:

– democratisation of tools of production – PCs make making it cheap

– minimise transaction costs – internet makes selling it cheap

– power of consumer WOM – internet makes talking about it cheap

Three opportunities

– long tail aggregators, reach the head and the tail, e.g. Amazon

– niche suppliers, get aggregated by someone else

– filters, help people find what they want

More likely to find satisfaction in the long tail, but have to look harder for it.

Have always had filters, but these are pre-filters, like editors of a mag who decide what goes in. Now we have post-filters, e.g. peers who review after publication.

Flattening the long tail affects which business models are viable. Long tail distributors can supply more different products.

[Anderson then goes on to show a bunch of graphs, not many of which I agreed with, but without them it’s hard to make notes. This guy talks at a speed which makes me look like an amateur. This talk is a repeat of a workshop that was on yesterday which I missed, but which Nat wrote up on his blog.]