In Response to Chris Anderson, of Wired Magazine’s, The Long Tail.
Anderson’s The Long Tail, written in 2006, made me think of the significant shift successful companies have undergone in the past couple of years to compete in the economic market the internet has transformed. The “long tail” Anderson refers to includes all significant sales outside of the popular favorites. He gives the example of Barnes and Nobles. He says, “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.” This occurs across industry lines, amplified by the internet.
Positive sales effects of company features, such as Amazon book suggestions, have evolved and more interactivity and information is offered now than ever to compete in the economic market. Anderson speaks to this in his article by saying Amazon book suggestions led to one thing, ” …rising demand for an obscure book.” As online store interfaces, such as Amazon.com, interact with their customers, customers become aware of more products. Popular culture fixtures, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, may lend popularity to obscure books suggested to consumers based on related topics.
User expectations, popular culture, and diversity of company services all have emerged to enhance this “long tail” phenomenon. An example of this is the success of Pandora during the past ten years.
Pandora is an internet radio that bases it’s entire popularity on this premise. Pandora allows individuals to create stations based on favorite artists or songs. From this, Pandora creates stations based on these preferences featuring similar songs or artists. This increases the popularity of bands which may be obscure in comparison to the artists individuals entered into their preferences. This promotes artists outside of the popular culture norm, and continual artist exposure.
Interactivity mentioned in Anderson’s article, such as book suggestions, is only amplified with Pandora. Individuals are able to engage with Pandora by choosing stations based on artists or songs, “like” specific songs to store preferences, shuffle stations together, create a profile to interact with other Pandora users, etc.
The wide variety of features offered through Pandora also makes me think of Anderson’s Netflix example. The emergence of the internet altered the services provided by companies required to compete in the economic market. For example, Pandora has a subscription service, iPhone application, etc. It offers lyrics of songs playing, band information, etc. This wide range of services provides users with enough usability to keep them coming back.
As for Anderson’s “long tail” concept, the internet will only continue to expose content which is not a part of popular culture. Individuals have been given an outlet to produce their own material, and the internet has transformed our economic market.