Inveterate dabbler in business, travel, gadgets & life

A very good article here about the fortunes been made by Amazon Ebay etc by exploiting the long tail of consumer demand that is all those people whose purchases are not in the top 100. That is the cumulative effect of thousands buying many individual items such as back catalogue music and out of print books. Interestingly how Amazons software can pick out books that you may like based on past purchases and how the reviews help. Certainly true for me

Thanks Ole Eichorn for the link on his Critical Section Blog.

Another link from John Battelle on the idea of the profit in the tail here

Reader Comments

  1. I’ve been writing about The Long Tail for some time now. Check me out at:

    As promised, I will now reveal one of the very largest industries that will be completely turned upside down in the next 10 years, thanks to the Long Tail of Consumer Demand.

    If you aren’t sure that education is a very big industry, let me tell you this. The Canadian government has calculated the total cost of educating a child born in 2002 will be approximately $400,000 when both private and public expenses are considered.

    The alarm rings 9 o’clock and your twelve year old daughter Sandy enter’s the kitchen to eat breakfast. After she eats her organic Cheerios, she heads for the classroom which is just two rooms away. On the way, she spends a few minutes in the bathroom doing her hair and putting on her favorite school clothes.

    She logs into her first class session. Her dynamic online class schedule has arranged her classes according to her interests and she’s chosen among the tens of thousands of teachers that are accredited in each subject. She wanted to have Bono teach her introductory course in international diplomacy, but you didn’t approve her top pick due to the exhorbidant cost and because you didn’t like U2’s Bloody Sunday lyrics. Instead she is stuck with her second pick, a little known proffessor living in Rural India named Kismaha, who was nominated for a Nobel Prize back in 1978, but didn’t win.

    I takes a few seconds to log in, but pretty soon, she is face to face with Kismaha and two other students, one from Australia and another from Texas. The kids spend a few minutes talking to each other and commenting on each other’s clothing and blog entries. You could only affort two flatscreen monitors for Sandy, so she decided to split the screen such that her lovely Bobby takes up an entire monitor, while the others share the other one.

    Kismaha starts the lesson with a 5 minute video she recorded at a recent UN assembly meeting. She then procedes to answer the children’s questions, using the interactive white board and talking them through the concepts of international border disputes. She explains that Canada and Denmark had decided to donate a disputed North Sea island to Rwanda in order to provide those people with more space.

    After the two hour lesson, the children negociate their homework with Kimaha. Sandy decides to find another example of a border dispute using google and to post a one page blog describing the related issues. Bobby, a forteen year old from Texas decides to research the origins of borders using the Oxford Librarie’s free Online library. Pisma, a gifted eleven year old from Oz decides that she wants to paint a picture of Canada and Denmark, but Kismata decides that this wouldn’t be enough unless she also found three competing definitions of the what is and international border and explained them to the other children the next day. Kismata decides to email each child a personalize tip in order to help them with their assignments.

    After another two similar sessions with different teachers and classmates from around the world, Sandy leaves the house to attend her soccer practice at the local sports club. There, she discusses what she is learning with the other local children and they share notes on favorite teachers. She finds out that Jane Goodall will be doing six two hour sessions on evolution starting next week.

    As soon as she gets home, Sandy takes Jane’s interactive qualification exam, hoping that she’ll be selected for the special sessions. Within a few seconds, Sandy is approved! Excited at the opportunity, she manages to cancel her upcoming history sessional and subcribes to Jane’s instead. Her credits are accumalating fast! At this rate, she’ll qualify for a university level session in anthropology that she’s been dying to complete. She’d already taken an undergrad course in geography taught by a retired Harvard researcher by acing the entrance quiz, but most professors required both credits and testing.

    You decide that one hour of sport is insufficient for Sandy’s person to person interactions, so you decide to convince her that she should attend a pottery course taught by a local aboriginal master. She agrees, but secretly plans to use the class time to give her friend Mike a flirting eye. She’s seen him play voleyball the other day and someone told her that he’s into pottery.

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