2008/06/30: 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.
Anyway, it’s getting late and I just wanted to highlight a few other interesting data points and conclusions from her article:
Much of the paper is about consumer satisfaction in the head vs tail. In the Quickflix data, she says, “customers give lower ratings to obscure titles…it is a myth that obscure books, films and songs are treasured. What consumers buy in Internet channels is much the same as what they have always bought.”
That may be true for the specific example of the Australian DVD data, but it is not clear from the paper why she feels able to extrapolate that to all Internet commerce.
The heaviest DVD renters were the most likely to venture into the tail; light consumers largely concentrated on the hits.
In music, of the 2.4 million digital tracks sold in 2007 in the US (most of them through iTunes) 24% sold only one copy and 91% sold fewer than 100 copies.
2008/07/01: Chris Anderson has been proved wrong. The Internet doesn’t increase sales of the long tail, it concentrates sales of blockbusters. Similarly, the Internet doesn't eliminate middlemen, it reduces their number and makes them more powerful; we’ve known this for ten years.
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