The long tail and IP Strategy
Given the choice and enough people then just about everything will be chosen at least once. Unparalled choice has created an almost unlimited number of niches of varying sizes – not just blockbuster products.
Figure out ways to aggregate these niches (along with the blockbusters if you can) and you’ve got part of the magic of google, amazon, netflix, itunes and so on.
Well, maybe not, actually… (The long tail theory is a little more controversial these days for reasons you can read about elsewhere.)
Great – given that there’s at least some value in being an aggregator of products or services, what does this have to do with intellectual property? Here’s some brief thoughts, what would you add?
Aggregators need to make it easy for niche product suppliers to plug in to their platform. Be very wary about the hurdles you put in the way. An IP licence agreement may be all that’s stopping you from succeeding – is it always necessary?
Aggregators need to be flexible – protect the core of their platform and the brand, but give away access to those wanting to supply products or purchase using it. Give away access to those who want to integrate with your platform to develop new products and new stuff to aggregate.
Intellectual property strategy isn’t just about protect and enforce. It’s about tailoring to your situation.
That takes brains, hard work, and guts. It’s not for everyone.
Click these links to read all about the Long Tail, Chris Anderson and Pareto distributions and rethinking the long tail by the Wharton School and criticisms of the theory by Times Online and the The Register.