For Chris Anderson, the strategic implications of the digital environment seem clear. “The companies that will prosper,” he declares, “will be those that switch out of lowest-common-denominator mode and figure out how to address niches.” But my research indicates otherwise. Although no one disputes the lengthening of the tail (clearly, more obscure products are being made available for purchase every day), the tail is likely to be extremely flat and populated by titles that are mostly a diversion for consumers whose appetite for true blockbusters continues to grow. It is therefore highly disputable that much money can be made in the tail. In sales of both videos and recorded music—in many ways the perfect products to test the long-tail theory—we see that hits are and probably will remain dominant. That is the reality that should inform retailers as they struggle to offer their customers a satisfying assortment cost-efficiently. And it’s the unavoidable challenge to producers. The companies that will prosper are the ones most capable of capitalizing on individual best sellers.
Anita Elberse von der Harvard Business School relativiert in der Harvard Business Review Chris Andersons “Long Tail”-Paradigma ein wenig und glaubt nicht so recht daran, dass der digitale Medienmarkt wirklich einer der Nischenprodukte ist: Should You Invest in the Long Tail?
Chris Anderson versucht in seiner Reaktion eine freundliches “Wir beide haben Recht.” zu formulieren:
My point is not to suggest that Elberse is wrong and that I’m right, it’s only to point out that different definitions of what the Long Tail is, from “head” to “tail”, will generate wildly different results.
P.S. Wer viel Zeit hat, kann sich auch mal durch die Diskussion zum Thema auf Slashdot graben, die durchaus die eine oder andere fruchtbare Ergänzung enthält.