Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Long Tail Principle and Monopolies


To continue a thought that I conveyed in my previous post - we are slowly arriving at the point, if we aren’t there already, where the iPhone is the de facto mobile development platform, in the same way that Windows is the development platform for desktop apps. So what should Android, Palm's webOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian do?

In any space, the established leaders maintain their position because of the “Long Tail principle” - they become something for everyone. The rest of the competition, though pushed to the fringes, can capitalize on 1 or more seams in the leader's coverage, deliver a compelling experience and maintain its relevance. The conventional wisdom is that it’s better to be everything to someone than something to everyone. This is what Bing needs to do if it is to compete with Google, how Apple has carved a niche for itself and stayed relevant despite the Microsoft juggernaut, how squashgear.com competes with Amazon, etc. So the answer is simple - instead of colliding head-on with Apple, the competitor that will truly succeed will be the one that carves a unique niche for itself and becomes everything for a small subset of the population.

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