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商務英語閱讀:“長尾效應”面面觀

Wag the Dog 尾巴搖狗

(譯注:英語中有這樣一種說法,即“It's a case of the tail wagging the dog”,直譯為“這可是一件尾巴搖狗的事。”,比喻“某個不重要的事物占據主導地位”。)

For the past two years in Silicon Valley, the centre of America's technology industry, conference-goers have entertained themselves playing a guessing game: how many times will a speaker mention the phrase “long tail”? It is usually a high number, thanks to the influence of the long-tail theory, which was first developed by Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine, in an article in 2004. (1)Though technologists and bloggers chuckle[1] at how every business presentation now has to have its long-tail section, most are envious of Mr Anderson, whose brainwave quickly became the most fashionable business idea around.

過去兩年來,美國科技產業中心——硅谷中參加各類會議的人們都自娛自樂地玩著一種猜謎游戲:一位演講者會多少次提到“長尾巴”一詞?一般而言,次數會很多。這是“長尾巴理論”的影響使然,《連線》雜志編輯克里斯?安德森于2004年在一篇文章中首創了這一理論。對于如今每個行業都必須表現出其自身的“長尾巴”,技術專家和博客作家們都覺得很可笑,不過他們多數人都很妒忌安德森,此人的靈感竟然迅速成了風靡一時的商業理念。

Whether a b_ __ __ _① film, a bestselling novel, or a chart-topping rap song, popular culture idolises the hit. Companies devote themselves to creating them because the cost of distribution and the limits of shelf space in physical shops mean that profitability depends on a high volume of sales. But around the beginning of this century a group of internet companies realised that with endless shelves and a national or even international audience online they could offer a huge range of products—and make money at the same time.

無論是大片、暢銷小說還是領先排行榜的說唱音樂,所有通俗文化都對“熱銷作品”推崇備至。各公司之所以致力于打造這些“熱銷作品”,是因為商品流通的成本以及現實商店貨架空間的局限性都意味著賣得多才賺得多。但在本世紀初前后,一些互聯網公司認識到,擁有了無限的貨架空間和來自全國甚至全世界的在線觀(聽)眾,它們所能提供的產品范圍就非常廣,同時也就可以掙到錢了。

The niche, the obscure and the specialist, Mr Anderson argues, will gain ground at the e_ __ __② of the hit. As evidence, he points to a drop in the number of companies that traditionally calculate their revenue/sales ratio according to the 80/20 rule—where the top fifth of products contribute four-fifths of revenues. Ecast, a San Francisco digital jukebox[2] company, found that 98% of its 10,000 albums sold at least one track every three months. Expressed in the language of statistics, the experiences of Ecast and other companies such as Amazon, an online bookseller, suggest that products down in the long tail of a statistical distribution, added together, can be highly profitable. (2)The internet helps people find their way to relatively obscure material with recommendations and reviews by other people (and for those willing to have their artistic tastes predicted by a piece of software) computer programs which analyse past selections.

安德森認為,那些瞄準市場特殊領域、市場定位模糊或者針對專業人士的產品雖然不能“熱銷”,但也會逐漸發展壯大。為了證明這一點,他指出,一直以來通過“二八定律”來計算收入/銷售比的公司數量已經有所減少。根據“二八定律”,80%的收入都來自銷售額居前5位的產品。舊金山數字唱片公司Ecast發現,在1萬張唱片中,有98%的唱片每3個月就至少售出1個曲目。從統計學角度看,Ecast以及亞馬遜在線書店等其它公司的此類經驗表明,對分布在統計圖中“長尾巴”區域的產品進行集中銷售,可以獲取高額利潤?;ヂ摼W幫助人們通過他人的推薦和評點,找到那些市場定位相對比較模糊的產品。對于那些喜歡利用軟件來鑒別其藝術品味的人而言,則可通過計算機程序來分析以往人們的選擇情況,從而也能找到此類產品。

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