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Online User Reviews, Product Variety, and the Long Tail: An Empirical Investigation on Online Software Downloads

Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 2012, 11 (3), 275-289

16 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2011 Last revised: 17 Aug 2014

Wenqi Zhou

Duquesne University - Palumbo Donahue School of Business

Wenjing Duan

George Washington University - School of Business

Date Written: November 21, 2010

Abstract

Our study examines the impact of both a demand side factor (online user reviews) and a supply side factor (product variety) on the long tail and superstar phenomena in the context of online software downloading. The descriptive analysis suggests a significant superstar download pattern and also the emergence of the long tail. Using the quantile regression technique, we find the significant interaction effect between online user reviews and product variety on software download. We find that the impacts of both positive and negative user reviews are weakened as product variety goes up. In addition, the increase in product variety reduces the impact of user reviews on popular products more than it does on niche products. After taking the interaction effect into account, we find that the overall impact of the increased product variety helps niche products to get more downloads. These results highlight the importance of considering the intricate interplay between demand side and supply side factors in the long tail and online word-of-mouth research.

Keywords: Long tail, Superstar, Online user reviews, Product variety, Word-of-mouth, Software download, Quantile regression

JEL Classification: L86, M31

Suggested Citation

Zhou, Wenqi and Duan, Wenjing, Online User Reviews, Product Variety, and the Long Tail: An Empirical Investigation on Online Software Downloads (November 21, 2010). Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 2012, 11 (3), 275-289. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1742519

Wenqi Zhou

Duquesne University - Palumbo Donahue School of Business ( email )

460 Rockwell Hall
600 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

Wenjing Duan (Contact Author)

George Washington University - School of Business ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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