The Long Tail principle, which we earlier wrote on, says that businesses could earn more from aggregating the obscure, niche items rather than focusing on sales of the more popular or more expensive item. This concept heavily borrows from statistics, and hence there is indeed a high likelihood of a successful business consolidating the small items.
This has been the model of eBay, Amazon.com and Netflix, which has enabled the public—those with Internet access, at least—to search for, and purchase the small, obscure items (hard-to-find DVD titles, in the case of Netflix). Weren’t it for companies like these three, their customers could never have otherwise had access to these items (or they would have had a very difficult time looking for them at brick-and-mortar establishments).
For web-related businesses, however, the trick is to aggregate content. With the current, very highly regarded “Web 2.0” model, which focuses on reader-generated and contributed content, media companies could focus on aggregation of content. Portals such as AOL and even Yahoo! are doing this by taking blogs under their fold.
The business model for aggregating web content, however, is still not as clear as in retail. Some earn from ad revenues, some from affiliate commissions, and others from traffic-exchange (yet to be monetized).