Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Long Tail of Software

Vrikodhara made me read Chris Anderson's article on the Long Tail a while ago. Joe Kraus now describes the concept of the long tail with emphasis on software. He starts off with search statistics on Excite, and says that:

while the top 10 searches were thousands of times more popular than the average search, these top-10 searches represented only 3% of our total volume. 97% of our traffic came from the “long tail” – queries asked a little over once a day.

My aha moment in the article occurred while reading the following paragraph:

The market doesn’t like a vacuum and people do solve their software needs in the long tail. They do it using two basic tools: Microsoft Excel and email. I’ve seen so many business that run on Excel+email. People build structured lists in Excel and then send them out over email for comments and updates – a list of people to hire, a list of deals they want to do with action items included, a list of features for the next product.

While normal users don’t think of it this way, what they’re really building is an long-tail application – a custom application, built by the end user and networked over email.

The article is a must read!

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