> The question is why is it not a language in widespread practical use?
1. It kind of is, I think RabbitMQ, CouchDB and Riak are doing ok, for example.
2. Both syntax and semantics are sufficiently different from "industry standard" to be a hurdle for majority of people... I'm being told. I don't understand this; the more different the language is the more interesting it seems to me and the more happy I am to learn it, but I heard this argument enough times to accept it as (sad) reality.
RabbitMQ has some pretty serious limitations related to it being implemented on Erlang that keep it pretty strictly in the realm of being a message queue rather than a generic queue.
CouchDB is more C++ than Erlang these days, bad example. It hasn't been mostly Erlang for a really long time. Erlang basically only does the clustering behavior, which is something Zookeeper et al. do already.
Riak is the only solid example out of those you listed, and its known for having poor raw performance, excellent availability, easy clustering, and awful usability.
I only said it is being used, not how good the products are... And CouchDB is a perfect example - from what I saw they use Erlang for what it's good at and use other tools where it's not appropriate - that's exactly how Erlang should be used.
 Or at least Joe Armstrong says so in his book, "Programming Erlang".
> RabbitMQ has some pretty serious limitations related to it being implemented on Erlang that keep it pretty strictly in the realm of being a message queue rather than a generic queue.
Interesting, where can I learn more about this claim? What are the incompatible facets of a generic queue and Erlang? What is an example of these generic queues (or if it's only an ideal, what are its characteristics)?
Where the first answer states that: "RabbitMQ presumes that consumers are mostly online, and any messages "in wait" (persistent or not) are held opaquely (i.e. no cursor). RabbitMQ pre-2.0 (2010) would fall over if your consumers were too slow, but now it's robust for online and batch consumers - but clearly large amounts of persistent messages sitting in the broker was not the main design case for AMQP in general."
(It's contrasted with Kafka, which is "designed for holding and distributing large volumes of messages")
Still, I see no reason why you say that it's Erlang that causes this?