November 09, 2008

The LongTail questioned - The Register says it's all bunk. I say they are wrong. Update: Chris Anderson commented here (thanks to ricetopher) Andrew Orlowski at the Register (UK) just published an interesting opinion piece that basically says that Chris Anderson's LongTail concept is a bunch of Silicon-Valley utopia, and self-perpetuating hype. His main argument is that 'evidence' collected by MCPS's Will Page et al suggests that digital music sales don't display a longtail characteristic, at all - rather, they exhibit the very same top-heavy, hit-centric income patterns that we've had in content sales since... well, the advent of electricity and the phonograph, I guess: the few hits make most of the money. Here are some quotes from Andrew and El Reg, followed by my comments: "They discovered that instead of following a Pareto or "power law" curve, as Anderson suggested, digital song sales follow a classic Log Normal distribution. 80 per cent of the digital inventory sold no copies at all - and the 'head' was far more concentrated than the economists expected. "Is the 'future of business' really selling more of less?" asks Page. "Absolutely not. If you had Top of the Pops now, you'd feature the Top 14, not Top 40. Anderson bet that the orange portion - the "Tail" - has more value than the red portion - the "Head". But it doesn't. "The Long Tail's argument is that the pattern of consumption for media is bent out of shape by the limits of the shops selling them. Digital media lets the nature of people's demand flow free. Well, we now know what the shape of that demand curve looks like. Bud told the conference that the basic shape of consumer demand for digital music clearly fits the Log Normal distribution, "with eye-watering accuracy". That's no surprise, he says, because so many sales curves he's seen over the past ten years...

Gerd Leonhard

Keynote Speaker, Think-Tank Leader, Futurist, Author & Strategist, Idea Curator, some say Iconoclast | Heretic, CEO TheFuturesAgency, Visiting Prof FDC Brazil, Green Futurist

The Futures Agency
Alan Edgett
The Typepad Team
David Rosen

Recent Comments