Summary of Trade-Off

Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don't
The Ever-Present Tension Between Quality and Convenience

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Trade-Off book summary
Look through the lens of “fidelity” versus “convenience” to see marketing success and failure in an entirely new way.


8 Overall

7 Applicability

9 Innovation

7 Style


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 browsing the aisles of your local bookstore or have the convenience of ordering books online? Products or services that lie on either extreme of the fidelity versus convenience continuum are most successful, while those that offer neither high quality nor extreme ease of use fall into the “fidelity belly,” where they are doomed to mediocrity unless they can swim out. In his engaging book, Maney expertly uses numerous colorful case studies to explain the fidelity swap paradigm and lucidly demonstrates how to adopt it as a corporate strategy. getAbstract recommends his work to businesspeople contemplating issues of price versus prestige, availability versus exclusivity, and what works in the market, what doesn’t and why.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the “fidelity swap” – the trade-off between a product’s convenience and the quality of the experience it offers – works
  • Why products or services that are either high fidelity or high convenience perform best
  • How to view business successes, failures and opportunities through the lens of the fidelity swap


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About the Author

Kevin Maney is the author of two books and a contributor to Fortune, The Atlantic and Wired magazines. He was the technology writer for USA Today for 20 years.

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