I just left Joe Kraus a comment that describes why I think his startup, JotSpot, is doomed – or at least will have a very short Tail. J The thing is, in order to be the Head of a healthy, ever growing Long Tail, many, many, many (did I mention “many” enough times?) people and businesses must be able to benefit (i.e. make real money) from your Body (e.g. API, tools, etc.). Which is why I believe SalesForce.com has a viable Long Tail because it's supported by a great body that consists of the Sforce Platform and an On-Demand Architecture.
In Google’s case, as most people already know, its search engine is the Head while AdSense is its Body, and all the bloggers and Web-based businesses who display Google ads via AdSense are part of its Long Tail. To that end, Google is attempting to make its Long Tail longer (and fatter) with Froogle, Google Maps, Google Scholar, Google Print, and on and on. Essentially, Google isn’t just trying “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful” – at the same time, they’re also trying to monetize the world's information and make it universally reusable for advertising. Of course, they wouldn’t say the latter statement anywhere because, oops, it just doesn’t jive with their well publicized “don’t be evil” corporate code of conduct.
To wit, remember the whole brouhaha over the Google Toolbar’s AutoLink feature a few weeks ago? Well, simply put, if you (even just attempt to) monetize someone else’s information, intellectual property, or hard work without that someone making a fair share of money, you are being evil. I wonder how folks like Winer, Scoble, Rubel, Mossberg, et al would have reacted to AutoLink if they were able to easily profit from the technology without doing any extra work other than to continue writing blog posts and articles? In AutoLink’s case, Google launched the Head without a viable Body to support the Tail. J If it's so evil, why will Google still release it? Because it provides a very significant shortcut to Google's attempt to monetize the world's information by potentially monetizing every Web page that a Google Toolbar user sees.