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The Long Nose of Innovation

The bulk of innovation is low-amplitude and takes place over a long period. Companies should focus on refining existing technologies as much as on creation

In October of 2004, Chris Anderson wrote an article in Wired magazine called The Long Tail, a theory he expanded upon in his 2006 book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. In it he captures some interesting attributes of online services, using a concept from statistics which describes how it is now possible for the "long tail" of a low-amplitude population to make up the majority of a company's business.

One of his examples came from music: A large quantity of often obscure but nonetheless listened-to music can outperform a much smaller quantity of huge hits. The implications of the phenomenon have been significant for those interested in understanding the meaningful attributes of online vs. brick-and-mortar businesses and the book has apparently had an enormous impact among executives and entrepreneurs.