NPR reported that CD sales tanked in 2010, particularly among younger buyers. The trend suggests that vinyl and iPods are sinking the audio CD into the so-called “fidelity belly,” where mediocre products go to die.
In his book Trade-Off, journalist Kevin Maney wrote that a truly successful product provides either the richest user experience (fidelity) or the greatest convenience. Less successful products fall into what he labeled the fidelity belly, “the no-man’s-land of consumer experience,” characterized by commercial apathy, insufficient fidelity, and insufficient convenience.
Apple succeeds in the consumer computer market by providing the richest pre-sales experience in its retail stores. Dell and HP succeed by providing an ultra-convenient pre-sales experience online. Who is in the belly? Everyone else.
Sinking into the fidelity belly is essentially the fast track to obsolescence. Staying out of the belly is never assured, because customer expectations for fidelity and convenience constantly evolve.