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The Non-Tail

A while ago Jochem our CMO was playing with one of our Monkey Babies. They’re the cute little models that we use to help you compare our materials. During Jochem’s playing/testing of this particular money, he broke off its’ tail. This was both sad and really fitting.

The Long Tail has gone from a little
idea published by Chris Anderson to a huge one that determines a lot
of corporate strategy and business thinking nowadays. There are a lot
of businesses springing up operating in the Long Tail. They are not
going for blockbuster hits but rather lots of small successes with
niche products for small groups of customers.

At Shapeways we allow people to upload
or modify any design and then have it 3D printed. A lot of people
might think of us as a typical Long Tail business. Potentially
however we are actually a non-tail business. Since every design on
our site is unique and made by one single individual for themselves
or as a gift for someone else, typically we sell just one printed out
copy of each design.

Of course crowds bring crowd-like
behavior and in future some of our designs will become popular. For
now however the blockbusters are things like earrings or bookends
where people print two copies of the design. In the future there
might be a lot of businesses out there where every product has a
market of one.

I believe that for cultural products such as movies and books the blockbuster model coupled with the Long Tail will be prevalent. But, in the world of manufactured consumer goods will a market of one not make more sense? 

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