Book Review: Trade-Off

Trade-Off , by Kevin Maney, discuss his idea on the trade-off between high fidelity and high convenience. He defines fidelity as the total experience of something (e.g. concert).

Interesting points:
a) Fidelity vs convenience. Products/service must either position themselves as high fidelity or high convenience. Customers will always trade fidelity for convenience or convenience for fidelity (e.g. consider eating out at a further high-class restaurant or a near-by fast-food restaurant.)

b) Tech effect. Technology always improves both fidelity and convenience. In other words, if a product is of the highest convenience/fidelity today, technology will ensure that a higher convenience/fidelity will be created in future.

c) Fidelity belly. Product that is not of high/sufficient fidelity or convenience resides in the fidelity belly. An example is music CD.

d) Fidelity Mirage. Companies who choose to position their products as both high fidelity and high convenience will fail.

e) Super Fidelity / Super-convenience. This is the winning group of products that either has extreme fidelity or extreme convenience. An example is I-phone, a product with extremely high fidelity when it first comes out in the market.

f) Social dimension. The social aspects of a product will affect the fidelity of a product. For example, one is willing to pay a few dollars for a ringtone and not a few dollars for a digital song, because a ringtone performs the function of signalling your taste of music to others. A song, on the other hand, is only bought for own entertainment.

g) Wrecking-ball moments. Every now and then, there will be a very innovative product/service that drastically change the market landscape. For example, the entrance of digital camera drastically changes the camera market and marks the end of analog camera.

h) Different groups of consumers make different fidelity/convenience trade-offs. For example, techies may prefer technological advanced/cool products, while normal users will prefer easy-to-use products.

i) Starting on a small scale will allow a company to adjust its product to the tech effect, its competitors and the idelity/convenience trade-offs. Starting on a big scale may make it difficult to adjust their product positioning.

j) Finally, products that require long development time are gambles, because a better technology/product may emerge and overtake the developing product. New technologies/products always start in the fidelity belly, as companies need time to figure out how to make the technologies/products more suitable to customers' needs. The technologies/products that go out of the fidelity belly are the those that aim for either high convenience or high fidelity. Aiming at both convenience and fidelity is bad.


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