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Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A Fresh and Important New Way to Understand Why We Buy

Why did the RAZR ultimately ruin Motorola? Why does Wal-Mart dominate rural and suburban areas but falter in large cities? Why did Starbucks stumble just when it seemed unstoppable?

The answer lies in the ever-present tension between fidelity (the quality of a consumer’s experience) and convenience (the ease of getting a
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  265 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Feb 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The basic premise of this book is that companies (and individuals and whatever) can shoot for a product with high fidelity, or high convenience. Or high fidelity, with a touch of convenience. Or high convenience, with a touch of fidelity. But they shouldn't shoot for both high fidelity and high convenience, or they're chasing a mirage. And they'll fail.

And that's it. Complete with a little graph.

And he repeats the graph several times. And he repeats himself several times.

I did find it interestin
Dec 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Well written book describing "the fidelity swap" which is a tool for guiding product decisions based on trading off between high fidelity experiences and convenience. He provides good examples to demonstrate his concept and goes into how this concept applies to marketplace strategy. Worth reading if you're involved in shaping products.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book really nicely articulated a concept that we all inherently grasp and use over and over in our daily lives - the trade-off between convenience and quality (my translation of what the author calls fidelity). It nicely helps explain how a lot of our decisions are made and how it impacts the success or failure of different businesses.

The book is a bit dated at this point and doesn't account for some of the more recent developments in technology and the business world, but it's no less appl
Ashutosh SHUKLA
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Will this so-so fidelity(authors' substitute word for quality) and highly inconvenient(all books are inconvenient, cause you have to read them!!) book survive the test of the time in the race to one of the greatest books ever....or ,in high probabilities, will it be stuck in the fidelity belly.
.. What the author States throughout the book.. Is mostly common sense corroborated by a lot of examples... Interestingly he tries to do the same for his book.. But in the last chapter.. A quick read on hi
Dixit Nagpal
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has given a definitely new angle to look at everything around you and not just limted to business product and services.
i would say it surely enhances your view when considering something be it business idea, product , personal job or anything else for that matter.
the smartness lies in your intelligence to apply this method. Also i would say this well supported by examples wherever needed and can be read quickly. Great book to enhance perspective.
Mander Pander
What a bloodless, unintentional offering to gods of irony--a dated book about not staying ahead of the curve.
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Insightful comparison of quality versus convenience

Technology journalist Kevin Maney coined the term “fidelity swap” to describe the choice consumers make between “convenience” and “fidelity,” which is the quality of the experience that a product or service provides. People make such trade-offs many times every day. To illustrate, consider whether you would rather watch the Yankees play live at Yankee Stadium or see the game from the comfort of your home? Would you rather enjoy the experience of
Chris Aylott
Jul 15, 2010 rated it liked it
The subtitle of this book is "The Ever-Present Tension Between Quality and Convenience," and technology reporter Maney makes a case for why you can't really have both.

He actually prefers the term "fidelity" to quality, mostly because his definition of fidelity includes elements of popularity and consumer self-identification that are not intrinsic to quality. He also includes cost as an essential factor in convenience. His definitions seem a little loose at time, loose enough that they might be a
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, economy
The thesis is that there are sweet spots for companies and their products which can be graphed onto a convergence of fidelity (total experience of a thing) and convenience to explain why they 'take-off' or fail. Bottom line is about selling, consumption and pushing product. More a case study than explanation of why. Conclusion points to Jim Collin's Good to Great book and his hedgehog concept; which makes in not a conclusion but more content (!). Not sure Maney know how to wrap up this trip down ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, strategy
I found Trade-Off to be both simple and complex. I am unable to say it is an enjoyable read (like The Experience Economy by Pine & Gilmore) but it isn't a complete drag either. What I found was the analysis was consistent and well reasoned. I am not a fan of anecdotal evidence as the premise for business strategy, yet the author was able to weave his thoughts consistently throughout the chapters.

The theme is simple. Business decisions face a consistent trade-off between convenience (think 7-11)
Bebe (Sarah) Brechner
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and well written book, although the perspective, in some cases, is dated (2009). Still, very worthwhile and fascinating especially for insights that were yet to be fulfilled at that time. For instance, this was before Apple came out with the iPad, which changed the market for e-readers and e-books. The author questioned whether Apple can continue with only the iPod and its computers. And he questioned Amazon's Kindle, as it had yet to take off. He cited Kodak's possible turnarou ...more
Rich Levin
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Entrepreneurs, Business Owners, and Execs
I read this a couple of years ago and used the convenience - fidelity concepts to change to course of our company. We were clearly pursuing the fidelity mirage and instead moved to a convenience model. I love books that give me an "aha" that I can immediately apply to my business or my life. This is one of them. The forward is written by Jim Collins. Interestingly enough, his book, "Good to Great" is another of those that led me to make very effective changes in our business model.
I gave away my
Anupam Nanda
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the market of products there is always a core-competency which firms bank upon. The product strategy revolves around either making the product for the masses and making it convenient to use (ACCORD principle) or make it the best in what it is supposed to do (Design). The book explains this principle well taking into account the examples of iPhone (Design focus), iPod (Convenience focus) and Starbucks (Design focus). While Starbucks also tried to achieve the Convenience factor for their servic ...more
Kater Cheek
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was very well written, and got its point across succinctly. It's basically about how every business has to negotiate along the fidelity (quality, status) and convenience (ease of use, cheapness) axis, and that those who try to do both or do neither won't take off. He draws from examples as varied as Starbucks (high fidelity, which started to falter in 2007 when it tried to become too convenient and oversaturated the world with franchises) to Segway (less convenient than walking and wit ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
The book isn't really about a trade-off, it's about how products/ ideas need to focus on either fidelity or convenience. An interesting idea and a lot of case studies that are fit into the argument. While I didn't agree with every example used and thought some of the arguments were too reductive, I do find the general idea of the book interesting and agree that we like to buy luxury (fidelity) or needed (convenience). Also very interested in the author's discussion of newspapers and the Amazon K ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
I thought this was an interesting idea, but the book itself was very repetitive. I probably could have read only a few chapters and still gotten the essential points of it - the only added benefit of reading the entire book was looking at all the different examples (which mostly involved technology innovations like i-phones and cameras). The entire concept is explained in the first chapter, and it did not develop much further from that.

Zach Olsen
Aug 03, 2009 rated it liked it
A simple concept for understanding business strategy. Everyone already gets the concept of this book but he puts it in terms that make it very simple to understand and makes you think, yes, that is how business strategy works. So simple, the book repeats itself a lot and tries hard to make itself longer than it probably needs to be. Still, I'm glad I read it.
Oct 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Great book! A "simple" concept that is very difficult to apply to business -- fidelity vs. convenience. This book was full of examples of the fidelity vs. convenience balance in real business scenarios. It was well written - a quick, but very informative read. This was one of my favorite business books and I would highly recommend it.
Tim Kadlec
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Maney does a good job of supporting the concept in this book - to be successful in business you need to decide whether you are high fidelity or high convenience, and you cannot be both. It certainly gets you thinking, and he poses a lot of really good questions to be asking yourself as you grow a business, or develop a product.
Randa Ahmed
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone into business, it's very well written and organized, simple and to the point .though it was written in 2009. This book will make you see the bigger picture more clearly and how consumers respond to quality and convenience and he gave examples of all sort of possibilities in each chapter from the best to worst and how to create a strategy.
Theodore Kinni
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
It's a lot of words to articulate a simple, but important point: companies succeed by becoming very good at providing customers either a high-fidelity (or high-quality) experience OR a highly convenient experience. If they don't pursue one or the other, they're in trouble. The most controversial idea here is that they can't and shouldn't pursue both.
Brad Davis
Apr 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book that both makes perfect sense, and makes you think about business strategy. This book is a business class in a book. I would suggest this book for anyone starting a new company or trying to reinvent a current one.
Betsy Lightfoot
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about why some things catch on, others don't, why some things are popular for a while, and then vanish.

My husband and I read it a couple months ago, and still reference fidelity and/or convenience when describing something, and why it's popular (or not).
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Not great, but he's not totally wrong about seeing the consumer world through the lens of fidelity-convenience trade-off. However, he uses his thesis to "explain" some phenomena, like Wal-mart's success, that I've heard explained in other, less stretching ways.
Oct 10, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, it was an interesting concept and FINALLY I know the reason why Crocs caught on... It's always been a sore spot with me.

Although the examples and case studies were interesting I felt the meat of the book was in section one so I kind of skimmed the last half.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't by Kevin Maney was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2010. ...more
Mark Fallon
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
The concept of the tension between quality (or fidelity) and convenience is well represented and there are good examples of success and failures from those that understand which end they are shooting for, and those that don't.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Quality versus convenience" with a lot of very interesting examples. I actually really enjoyed this book. His examples of up and coming companies/ideas will either confirm or shake his theory's credibility down the road; I thought it was interesting he would include them.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Kevin Maney presents the ideas of fidelity in opposition with convenience and presents many examples illustrating the trade off but I wish he could have developed the opposing ideas in greater depth.
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