Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Be careful with the "Long Tail" buzzword

In the October 2004 issue of Wired, Chris Anderson nailed the term "Long Tail" from a business model sense. Basically, the "long tail" thesis is that technology enables organizations to be profitable serving extremely niche markets. For example, Amazon can profitably distribute a book that might only ever sell 400 copies whereas a bricks-and-mortar book store would likely lose money on such a short seller.

I know someone who reviews business cases for various Venture Cap groups and he's noticed an alarming misuse of the "long tail" phrase. I've also noticed it creeping into more and more general conversation. His advice was to be careful with the phrase "long tail" so that it's not used synonymously with "small market" (or the business case will surely be rejected). Instead, talk about how your business case ENABLES someone to be successful reaching the "long tail". In other words, writing a book that only appeals to 400 people might be a bad business model, but providing a framework that enables that 400-book author IS a great business model.

At EclipseCon 2006 this March, Carl Zetie will be talking about Eclipse and the Long Tail. It's a great point - in addition to the more obvious benefits of the Eclipse platform and some of the more popular projects, Eclipse is also a great vehicle for developing and distributing projects that might be considered more niche. Not only from a technology (enabling) perspective, but from an ecosystem (business development) perspective!

- Don


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