Tue 8 Aug 2006
Foolish though it is to reblog Slashdot posts, I wanted to toss in a comment about a recent WSJ article posted there. In 'Many Companies Still Cling to Big Hits To Drive Earnings' Lee Gomes argues that big hits, blockbusters, and the top 5% still dominate the market today. The Long Tail, he argues, isn't as relevent as we might think.
The thing is, Gomes was just trying to give some sound business advice: don't think you have to switch to a brand new model right away: the tried and true one still works. But in the process he's misrepresented the whole idea of the Long Tail. The idea isn't that blockbusters won't be important anymore, just that they won't be the only important thing. When many folks have access to the channels of distribution, and diverse content is always available, it creates another option for those who want it. The blockbuster has some competition.
The Barnes & Noble's of the world are in no immediate danger from the competition of the Long Tail. But if they're smart, they'll realize, unlike Mr. Gomes, that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Be a hits oriented company, but cultivate a symbiotic community of producers, consumer, commentators, searchers, stockpilers, and experts. After all, today's blockbusters will be sliding down that curve before long. Why lose their value entirely?