A great example of the potential of the Long Tail (see my 4/1/2005 post) to capture a segment of a growing niche, ultra light outdoor equipment. Nemo, which has just launched its first tents which are incredibly light and are raised in about a minute. See the video. In addition to truly innovative design including air support instead of conventional poles Nemo has also presented itself with a first rate web site, won the grand prize for innovation at the world wide sporting goods show in Germany, and managed to equip the Nike Balance Bar advernture racing team.
They have combined passion, technology, hard core users, internet visibility, and PR to give themselves a shot at success. Not bad for a few guys in a mill in Nashua NH.
On the cautionary side of the "tale" the first tents are expensive and they use the highest performance fabrics which due to outdated flame resistance regulations in 7 states do not permit them to be sold in those states. Thus while their superb product, web site, PR and a core of appropriate high end dealers gives them the potential "infinite shelf space" of the internet the dirty yet real details of the physical world will at least temporarily create some friction to their sales in the marketplace.