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March 10, 2005


Mike Harper

Great post. Encouraging for IT contractors like me who, come to think of it, provide services in the long tail.

I met someone who worked for a manufacturing company and was implementing a SAP-like package. What if it didn't fit the business's processes? He was planning to make the processes fit the software!

I don't know how this story ended. But it seems to me the unique way business processes evolve might be critical to the company's success. Off-the-peg solutions without customisation could undermine that, making a company less competitive.

Firefox Fan

It seems that what is really needed is something similar to the Firefox extension model. While it is impossible to create an entire suite that perfectly meets the needs of millions of businesses, it is possible to make a simple core that accepts highly-tailored extensions that do one particular thing extremely well. The market for the plug-in may be just 1000 businesses, but it takes only 2 man-months to create it, not the man-decades needed for the all-in-one solution.

Mark Tosczak

So here's the interesting question: books, music, web search, software. What other categories of business might it be possible to build a Long Tail business on? Are only information-based business (i.e. digital) susceptible to this?

chris anderson


The answer is that there are lots of them. I've already discussed Google (LT of advertising) and eBay (hard goods), but there are many others. But I've promised my publisher I'd save something substantial for the book, so you'll just have to read about there ;-)


sounds a lot like clay shirky's essay on situatied software...


Economist on long tail of software. May require password.


Let me know if you need a copy.

Amir K


would you please e-mail me that economist piece at amir@amiran.com or just copy and paste it here in the discussion board.



Jonathan Sapir

For a detailed analysis of long tail software tools, take a look at www.longtailsoftware.com.


my gosh March 10, 2005!!!

back when i first joined Flickr + caught the whole Web2.0 bug*

i was hoping to get on yer Mailing List for Long Tail Software Dev but the Link doesn't work?

amazing Blog btw*

steven davies

the software industry is going through a quet revolution., Software's Share of the IT Budget will grow from 30% to 35% in 2008 according to a CIO.The tale continue.

Wesley Tanaka

Isn't the difference that the consumer tells the producer what's needed in custom software, but with music and movies, it's the producer telling the consumer. Mass market software is more similar to music and movies, but there's been a lively market there for a long time already.

Tom Grimshaw

Couldn't agree more! We have been satisfying long-tail needs for a dozen years now. Probably would have made more money going after a vertical market niche!

We are currently rebuilding our mini-ERP package to be even more customisable and configurable, even to the point of allowing a user to create custome data entry forms that handle data inserts to multiple tables.

Must go check out some of the links in the post comments.

xmas gifts

The long tail of software. Millions of Markets of Dozens. and I highly recommend it. The idea of a long tail is not new, but was popularized by Chris Anderson of Wired...Thanks for sharing such a great post here...

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!