For the past year, like most of you, I’ve been droning on about the long tail to anyone who will listen. I’m now almost through Chris Anderson’s just released book. It’s a great read, and it has been fun rediscovering his core concepts, and why I found them so compelling the first time I read the original Wired article. However, while I am a believer that virtually infinite inventory paired with the user’s ability to discover content/products does indeed change the dynamics of business today, one thing still strikes me as ironic: in order to matter in a marketplace that is serving a long tail - your service needs to be a hit.
Consumers have proven they have the attention capacity to purchase songs, movies, books, gourmet pizzas, or whatever in the long tail. In fact, Anderson offers compelling evidence that they prefer it. But do they have the attention to leverage multiple long tail services? There is a long tail curve of companies for every marketplace. The game has changed, and the companies that offer up a long tail of products/services to their customers will end up at the head in their market, they will, ironically, be tomorrow’s hits.