iED Blog

Gossip, innovation and insight into our apps

The Long Tail

Back in 2005 I had become a trainee registrar in Emergency Medicine and was going between Aberdeen and Yorkshire allot. It was during these journeys up and down the country that I first started reading wired magazine, and listening to tech podcasts.

On one such journey I read a great article by Chris Anderson in WiReD magazine that stuck with me, and which together with a few other concepts, and technological advances gave me the confidence to embark on the whole iED apps idea.

Essentially, the argument goes something like this:

In the old days, everything was sold physically & locally. Stores would stock only those things that would sell, as it would be folly to take up storage space stocking items that wouldn’t sell in volume.

In the new days, storage space is much less of an issue. In 2005 the argument was still about physical sales, as software sales online were few and far between, and mobile app sales were non existent.

Chris argued that the real advantage of the online sales model was the ability to sell low volume items, but have lots of different ones. The ability to do this would depend upon stock control & delivery channels, not in a finite store, but a huge warehouse, with a customer base of an entire country rather than a small town.

He pointed out that amazon made 25% of its money from selling items out-with the top 10000 sales rank (the long tail). That really struck me, not because of the money, but because in theory it meant that producers could really start selling quality niche products, and worry less about the route to market.

At the same time I was listening to an amazing cool podcast called the world tech podcast. That really moved me from the gadget porn mindset to the entrepreneurial one. Every week there was this endless onslaught of interviews with  these really normal guys & girls, working really hard, for very little, on the weirdest madest coolest stuff, just to change some-thing for someone somewhere.

Fast forward a few years and with itunes we have the ability to make non physical products available to anyone in over 60 countries, from a single point, with no delivery costs. That makes stock control & delivery logistics redundant.

The long tail must be getting longer and longer, and at the same time the Emergency Medicine community is becoming tighter, so surely there could be a way of delivering quality niche products to our colleagues….

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