Posts Tagged ‘Trade-Off’

Press Release: Trade-Off paperback

August 2nd, 2010

“Get ready to rethink what differentiates success from failure. Trade-Off introduces one of those ideas that will stick in your mind for decades.” —Tom Rath, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Strengths Based Leadership

 Why did the Razr ruin Motorola? Why did Starbucks stumble just when it seemed to reach for the stars? Why do some things catch on when others don’t? Kevin Maney presents a new way to understand what works in the marketplace of products and ideas, and why we buy. 



Why Some Things Catch On,

and Others Don’t

 By Kevin Maney

Foreword by Jim Collins

What made camera phones an immediate hit when they were introduced, and why have Internet TV networks barely taken off? Why does Wal-Mart dominate rural and suburban areas, but have trouble succeeding in large cities? In TRADE-OFF: Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t (Broadway Books; August 17, 2010; $15.00), now available in paperback, Kevin Maney examines the ever-changing trade-off that consumers make between fidelity—the quality of an experience—and convenience—how easy it is to get it or buy it—and the role it plays in the ultimate success or failure of a product.

In the book, Kevin suggests that the fidelity/convenience trade-off defines the success or failure of virtually all consumer products. Now more than ever, businesses can use an understanding of this crucial phenomenon to reshape their product development and their marketing campaigns to make their products a success.

There is constant tension in the choices shoppers make between products and experiences that have high fidelity—for example, front row seats at a U2 concert—and those that rely on super-convenience—downloading a U2 song off of the Internet. Companies have inadvertently used the fidelity factor to make billions, such as Apple’s iPod and iPhone, or Wal-Mart, the super-convenient shopping option. And when companies have fallen into the dreaded Fidelity Belly, where products pursue both convenience and fidelity, or appeal to neither, they fail.

Kevin draws on over two decades of interviewing CEOs of companies like Kodak, Apple, Coach, Six Flags, ESPN and Amazon among others, to provide a powerful narrative of the way the fidelity/convenience trade-off plays out in the marketplace.

He defines the central components of fidelity—aura, identity, and experience—and the essential elements of convenience—ease and cost—analyzing how different demographic groups choose different fidelity swaps, and how a single innovative new product can change the fidelity curve for an entire market.

Kevin can discuss in interview:

Hollywood 3-D Era: Theater attendance has been on a steep decline since the early 2000s. Hollywood execs have long been looking for a high-fidelity experience people will want to pay for; they think they’ve found it according to Vince Pace, inventor of the new 3-D technology titles like James Cameron’s Avatar used in filming. In 2010, Hollywood began releasing a parade of 3-D movies; but are 3-D movies translating to 3-D $$$? 

Kindle—Striving for the Aura of Bookishness: In the first six months after launch, the Kindle had sizzling sales and glowing reviews. But three years later, the Kindle has yet to light a fire under a sizable market. The Amazon folks are competing against the experience of reading a traditionally bound book—the weight and feel, the smell, the satisfaction of turning a page or closing the cover upon completion. The fidelity/convenience equation suggests that the Kindle will have trouble breaking out, unless Amazon changes the device and how it’s marketed in key ways. 

iPhone—The Undoing of Apple: Apple always had a secret sauce that was key to its success: its aura and identity. In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes—typical high-fidelity products for Apple (expensive, better than anything else available, totally cool). But then something new happened—these products were desired by the masses. Apple seized the opportunity, cutting prices and ramping up production. It even created the Shuffle to expand to a broader, low-cost market. But in the early 2000s, iPods became blasé. So in 2007, Jobs unveiled the iPhone—first priced at $599! In late 2008, iPhones went on sale at Best Buys’ some 900 US stores, making it far more accessible to the masses. Marc Andreeson predicted Apple would sell 100 million phones (the same number of RAZRs sold to make it the most popular phone in history—but also the strategy that brutally damaged the Motorola brand). The iPhone gave Apple its image back, but left it standing at one of those proverbial crossroads, much like Starbucks in the early 90s: if Apple floods the market with iPhones, it will become a tech giant, and consumers will view the company differently. It’s easy to love an underdog; it’s a little harder to love a dynasty.

In the book’s forward, Jim Collins writes, “TRADE-OFF does not in itself give an answer about what you should do, and not do. Rather—and much better—it forces you to engage in a powerful question, from which you derive your insight and make your own decisions. If you engage your team in a vigorous debate stimulated by the questions that naturally arise from the ideas in these pages, you will gain a deeper understanding not just of what you should be doing (or not) but, even more important, why.”

For more information, visit:


About the Author

KEVIN MANEY, author of Megamedia Shakeout and The Maverick and His Machine, has been a contributing editor to Condé Nast Portfolio and a contributor to The Atlantic, Wired, NPR, and ABC News NOW. He covered the technology industry for USA Today for almost two decades. He lives outside of Washington, D.C.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Kevin Maney,

please contact Dennelle Catlett at 212-782-9486 or

Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t By Kevin Maney

On-sale: August 17, 2010; Paperback; ISBN: 978-0-385-52595-4; Price: $15.00

The Crown Publishing Group