I recently read Trade-Off, Why Some Things Catch On and Others Don’t, by Kevin Maney.
This book surrounds one premise, that for a product to succeed against its competitors, it needs to excel in either Quality (fidelity) or Convenience. In a montage of one example after the next we are given pairs of products as examples of this concept. The fidelity (literally) of MP3 audio is lower that that of a CD, but the convenience is much higher, a dollar or so (assuming you’re not stealing it) and a few seconds download time, and it’s yours. A CD, at best, is a walk or car ride away, or a few days if ordered on line.
The author goes on to discuss how where a product lies on the fidelity/convenience curve will shift over time. Not just to say that it can shift, but that it will. A simple case in point, the iPod. The first models came on the scene as a high priced, high fidelity purchase. Over time, the iTunes store took off but the unique aura surrounding the iPod faded a bit as everyone seemed to have one. As the iPod shifted its position on the curve, Apple introduced the iPhone and gained incredible market acceptance for this new product, again hitting the high point on the fidelity curve as its older products shifted toward convenience.
This book is fast reading, and enjoyable despite its tight focus. Take a read and see if you don’t start to view certain products in a different light.
FTC disclosure – The copy of this book I read was from my public library. No one paid me to read it or write about it. Most links in the sidebars left or right are advertisements, and not personal endorsements.