The Panoramic Long Tail, leveraging on mobile mashups

Panoramio, a mobile web mashup that enable digital photographers to geolocate, store and organize their photographs–and to view those photographs in Google Earth and Google Maps. The core functionality of Panoramio is to see visually all the users pictures on a map and commonly considered as a web mashup. A Mashup implies rapid prototyping and fast integration of different APIs and data sources with a user-oriented approach.

Mashups align with the Long Tail Theory developed by Chris Anderson in a wired magazine article. The long tail theory is based on selling more for less. This theory described a business strategy based on selling many small volumes of hard-to-find items instead of a few large volumes of popular items. It argues that as a whole, these hard-to-find items can make up a value that equals or exceeds the fewer bestsellers. This is possible when the distribution channel is large enough, such as the Internet, and the marginal cost is low, such as in the Software industry. The following image explores the anatomy and the characteristics of the Long Tail Theory from the perspective of Rhapsody, a Music retailer.

The long tail as seen on the yellow section on the line graph creates a new growth market through obscure or niche market products. Mobile Mashups satisfy  the needs of niches based on the long tail theory and creating extraordinary business values. Such business value has been created by recognizing the niche market in Panoramio. The photographs taken through Panoramio is then uploaded to Google maps and Google Earth, allowing the users to contribute towards the photo mosaics in Google Street View.

Mobile Web Mashups such as Paronamio allows the creation of new application and services thanks to the Long Tail Theory, with the aggressive expansion into new market areas. Additionally, the applications developed are more effective as their tailored to user needs with efficient user interface.


12 comments on “The Panoramic Long Tail, leveraging on mobile mashups

  1. Great post Hasitha!
    Does Panoramio gather photos from the public domain? If so, is there any sort of filtering process to protect the privacy of people doing certain activities etc?

    Can you think of any applications where this software could be taken to the next level?

    • Thanks for the comment Nicholas. Yeah, Panoramio is a user generated application where users upload their own pictures based on geotagging, similar to flickr. There are no clear privacy policy regarding peoples uploads as any photograph can be uploaded to the site like any other social application.

      I think Google is now trying to take it to the next level by improving 3D mapping features through Panoramio.

  2. Hi Hasitha,

    That’s an interesting mashup, and really such a simple idea too. The practical applications for which are really quite interesting. It makes me think that GPS tagging is going to be a huge thing in the years to come.

    It makes these ‘images’, these pieces of data that require some arbitrary description to be retrievable by search, to instead be searchable by a single point of truth -> the GPS data it is tagged with.

    I am a little concerned though about how this pattern is applied here. What does this mashup provide in terms of the ‘long tail’ and delivering products that are niche? I can only think that perhaps you are driving at the angle that it provides a service that allows users to amalgamate and upload photos from popular and non-popular locations. For example, if I wanted a picture from a street in Los Angeles, I’m probably more likely to find it than a picture from a particular location in a less famous city.

    Or are you driving at the idea of ‘mashups’ as a concept in general as being representative of the long-tail?


    Anthony Smith

    • Hi Hasitha,

      Right, after a re-read I understand. It’s the fact that Panramio is a ‘niche’ app and that Panoramio, like many mashups can owe its success to the long tail effect and the often inexpensive, but powerful applications these mashups have for users.

      Sorry about that, I should have re-read.


      Anthony Smith

      • Yeah, I think i was trying to emphasize both, that Panoramio is a niche app and that mashups are at the niche end of mobile applications. Mobile mashups are derived from the long tail of the demand for mobile applications where lot of people have a fewer demand for niche apps. Panoramio has utilized this by mashing up the features of geo-tagging, mapping and ubiquitous application features all in one.

  3. Great post as usual Hasitha.

    Interesting web application definitely caters to a very particular niche. Do you know what Panoramio does to try to flatten the tail as much as it can? Is there any new products or features on the way to expand the existing user base?

    • Thanks Colin. I don’t think Paronamio particularly trying to flatten the long tail, as it is already a product of the Long Tail theory through the niche markets. At the moment they are just fine tuning their current features and services to attract more users. But I think it’ll implement more innovative features that can be used with Google+ and other services which Google provide.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Hasitha,

    I suppose Panramio is a fairly ‘niche app’, but I suspect it could gain in popularity with this new “Snap to this place” feature. I mean, that could provide a better kind of ‘check-in’ that could be posted on G+, for example. I’d also like a private version of Panramio, with my own Google map. I’d be able to share it with friends, of course. Mashing up my photos with a global map would be seriously interesting. Hmm.. does Panramio do that yet?

    • THanks Dan, Yeah, I think the whole point of Google acquiring Panoramio is to improve their mapping and have some kind of integration with their social network. I don’t think they have a personal mashup of photos yet to share around personal circles, but it’ll be implemented soon as it is the logical next step for a social network. And it would certainly improve the check-in feature facebook has implemented but with better interactivity and authenticity.

  5. Hi Hasitha
    i really enjoy reading your post
    Panoramic seem to be a great web application for the photographer and its the first time i heard about the application. From the details it can be seen that has apply the theory of long tail.
    thank for the wonderful post

    • Thank you for your kind words. It is a great application for photographer, especially if they focus on nature and outdoor environments. I think flickr has overshadowed the popularity of Paronamio for its functionality. But with more improvements im pretty sure Paronamio will be a great competitor.

  6. Congrats,Great work,Thanks for sharing this post with us.keep it up.

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