At Google's first shareholder's meeting last week, Eric Schmidt, its CEO, elaborated on why he describes Google's mission as "serving the long tail."
He started by showing this slide:
Which he explained this way:
"We took a look at our market last year and asked ourselves: how are we doing? If you look at the advertiser, the market we're in, how do we do from the largest companies - Wal-Mart - in the world, all the way down to the smallest companies in the world, the single individual. We call this The Long Tail. A lot of people have been talking about it--it's a very interesting idea.
We looked at this and we said, we've been doing really well up until now in the middle part of this. Well-run, mid-sized businesses, smart people solving interesting problems. But how well do we do against the problems of the very largest customers? So last year we brought out a whole suite of tools for very large advertisers who can use our services in all of their divisions to generate lots and lots of revenues because, of course, in our model the advertising drives predictability, it drives conversions, and so forth.
And what about the individual contributor, the small business, the company where Joe or Bob is the CEO, the CIO, the CFO and the worker and the support person--a one person company, a two-person company, a three-person company? We built a whole bunch of small, self-service tools which allowed them to almost automatically use this service.
So [we went] in both directions last year. By going all the way to the top, we were able to capture very large and historically underserved businesses as well as a whole new area that never had access to these kinds of online services."
For me, the main take-home from this is the importance of addressing both sides of the curve, a subject I'll elaborate on in the next post.