Harvard Study Refutes Long Tail Theory

Two years ago a book was published that stated the Internet would turn inventory management and planning around. No-longer constrained by bricks and mortar, consumer consumption of goods would change. The internet brings about a new consequence: consumption patterns will change, and “hits” will shift to “misses.” Misses according to the book, “The Long Tail Theory” would become more profitable.

Now a new study that derived data from web sites says it isn’t so. The most popular items online are just as important than they are offline. The study was based on selected video and music eCommerce web sites.

Harvard associate professor Anita Elberse has penned a long article for the Harvard Business Review that used data from Rhapsody and Australian DVD-by-mail distributor Quickflix to demonstrate that rather than the Internet enabling a “long tail” of niche media which publishers should embrace, the blockbuster strategy is still what pays dividends for content producers. In other words, Elberse argues that media is still a hits business, and that the Internet is not necessarily the democratizing force The Long Tail author Chris Anderson says it is. Anderson says that Elberse’s analysis isn’t wrong, per se, just that they disagree on exactly what the “head” and “tail” mean. Except that Elberse worked with Anderson on researching his book, so one imagines the Wired magazine editor explained it thoroughly. Funny, it’s as though two different people analyzing the same data have come to entirely different conclusions about the “truth.”

Michael Arrigo

Michael is Managing Partner & CEO of No World Borders, a leading healthcare management and IT consulting firm. He serves as an expert witness in Federal and State Court and was recently ruled as an expert by a 9th Circuit Federal Judge. He serves as a patent expert witness on intellectual property disputes, both as a Technical Expert and a Damages expert. He leads a team that provides Cybersecurity best practices for healthcare clients, ICD-10 Consulting, Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records. He advises legal teams as an expert witness in HIPAA Privacy and Security, medical coding and billing and usual and customary cost of care, the Affordable Care Act and benefits enrollment, white collar crime, False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback, Stark Law, Insurance Fraud, payor-provider disputes, and consults to venture capital and private equity firms on mHealth, Cloud Computing in Healthcare, and Software as a Service. He advises self-insured employers on cost of care and regulations. Arrigo was recently retained by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding a significant false claims act investigation. He has provided opinions on over $1 billion in health care claims and due diligence on over $8 billion in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Education: UC Irvine - Economics and Computer Science, University of Southern California - Business, studies at Stanford Medical School - Biomedical Informatics, stutdies at Harvard Law School - Bioethics. Trained in over 10 medical specialties in medical billing and coding. Trained by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and PTAB Judges on patent statutes, rules and case law (as a non-attorney to better advise clients on Technical and Damages aspects of patent construction and claims).

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