Summary of Trade-Off

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  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening
  • Inspiring


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.

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.



The Hollywood Conundrum

When director James Cameron and his creative team released the 3-D film Avatar, it became a giant hit. Moviemakers immediately lined up to produce more 3-D features. Why? Theater attendance has been falling for the past several years as people have faced the “fidelity swap,” the trade-off between either watching a film at home (“convenience”) or the experiential quality of viewing it in a theater (“fidelity”). At home, you can take breaks for a phone call or a bathroom run, and watch a movie on your own schedule, whereas going to the theater calls for traveling, standing in line and paying for tickets. As attendance figures prove, people now tend to opt for convenience instead of a great experience. Theaters are trapped in the “fidelity belly” because they offer neither convenience nor a great experience. Since the industry can’t make theaters more convenient, it is trying to improve the quality of the theater experience – hence, 3-D.

A conflict between fidelity and convenience occurs in every kind of business, so using the fidelity swap as a framework for marketing strategy provides businesspeople with a new paradigm for analyzing...

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