Fascinating blog by Chris Anderson of Wired, actually the blog will become a book. The Long Tail of the marketplace or the curve leading from high volume "hits" with little variety to lower volume but greater variety is the province of a multitude of niches. The Long Tail has been enabled in recent years by the internet, advances in design and manufacturing technology and of course passionate users who can now get the word out.
These factors have given products infinite shelf space and the ability to rapidly morph. The contention is that this rapidly evolving commercial space is growing, with many small niches gradually increasing the overall volume of the tail. Important implications for start-ups who must realize that their niche may never become a huge, classic hit and for larger players who must now continually offer fast moving innovation, mass customization. and/or spend mightly on marketing and traditional shelf space-or see their volume continue to shrink.
Clearly The Long Tail is evident in categories such as download music and other products stored and sold entirely in a digital realm as here essentially the most traditionally obscure tune is just as likely to be bought as a hit from a major artist as they both share virtual shelf space equally and fans can direct friends to the product easily via the internet. This said The Long Tail and its implications is just as applicable to niche products of all sorts including those more physical in nature.