iTunes Store: Leveraging the Long Tail
This week’s blog is about ‘Leveraging the Long Tail’, another one of Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Patterns. I will cover the application, iTunes Store. I will also give an overview of Leveraging the Long Tail and how the iTunes Store relates to this weeks pattern.
What is Leveraging the Long Tail?
‘Leveraging the Long Tail’ is a concept that was first coined by Chris Anderson in an article for Wired Magazine in 2004. Anderson’s theory behind the ‘Long Tail’ is that nowadays, our culture and economy is shifting from mainstream products and markets (the head) to niche products (the Long Tail). In an internet crazed era, ‘niche products’ have been able to connect/reach out to a larger audience within the market as almost everyone in the world can connect to the internet. The benefits of Leveraging the Long Tail are:
- Low costs of production and distribution – Hosting an application using the ‘cloud’ has made it very cost effective and easy for users from anywhere in the world to access iTunes.
- Combined with infinite shelf space – iTunes has been able to make their product/service available for the whole world to use with no geographical limitations.
An application that has made the most out of ‘the Long Tail’ is the iTunes Store.
The iTunes Store is the World’s number one music store. It not only lets you preview songs before you buy it, but it also allows you to rent or buy HD blockbuster movies and episodes of your favourite TV shows and shop for audiobooks and download apps for your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. However, not all of these great features were available when Apple first released iTunes in 2003.
Initially, iTunes only hosted 200,000 tracks and only Mac users we able to buy and transfer music onto their iPod. iTunes was then expanded to the mass market with the introduction to PC users who had to wait until October 2003 for the Windows version of iTunes. The iTunes Store was so successful that only 18 hours after the service first went live, it had sold approximately 275,000 tracks. In June 2004, Apple began its international expansion of iTunes Store in the UK, France and Germany. In 2005, iTunes 6 was released with video support and introduced music videos, short films and televisions programs to the store. in 2006, Apple changed the name from the ‘iTunes Music Store’ to the ‘iTunes Store’ in order to expand their product lines such as movies, apps and audiobooks. In January 2008, Apple launched movie rentals.
It is clear from this brief outline of Apple’s iTunes Store history that Apple made the ‘tail’ longer and longer. Apple’s initial concept was to provide a virtual store where people could buy and download music. This however, changed from just being a music store and hosting 200,000 tracks. Today, iTunes is the world’s number one music store and more than 10 billion tracks have been downloaded.