Can We Converge All This Convergence?

from the too-many-to-pick-from dept

Mike Langberg over at the San Jose Mercury News has one of the better wrapups I’ve seen of last week’s CES event. Basically, everyone is betting that “convergence” is finally happening. Convergence of what? Well, see, that’s the problem. They all have different ideas, and not all of them will play nice with each other. Obviously, the focus for all of the big companies is that, somehow, its converged solution will be the center — the platform — and everyone else will converge on top of that offering. What that means, though, is that there’s going to be a lot of confusion for a while until a de facto winner takes over… if a de facto winner takes over. After all, we’ve heard this convergence story many times before and quite often consumers don’t go for it, as they recognize converged solutions often mean a lot less than other solutions individually.

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Comments on “Can We Converge All This Convergence?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

TV/VCR Combos took us into the "what" century...

What ever happened the the TV/VCR combo…. yeah, that was a great idea. One part would break down, while the other worked just fine – so you’re basically left with a “converged” product that only 50% worked. Same could be said for Camera & Phone combos… whilst the quality of the camera isn’t all that good (at this time) and people still prefer to have a dedicated camera, they still purchase those phone with them built-in… but this is a poor example, since most people go through a new cell phone every 6 to 12 months — for the “latest and greatest” factor.

Paul says:

Re: TV/VCR Combos took us into the

agreed, these combo devices usually end up half broken… which is far worse than separates being broken: a regular TV migt have a/v sockets or SCART in europe, but a combo probably won’t, so if the built-in DVD or VCR breaks, you’re worse off.

Some sort of standardised modular system would be a good compromise.. like those mini “hifi” (in quotes because they’re not true hifi) with an IEEE standard connector top and bottom for stacking would be ideal. Or a TV with slot(s) for vcr, dvd, games console or similar module would be great – so long as 3rd parties could design for it!

Howard (user link) says:

Divergence is the way to go.

The long-term trend has always been divergence, not convergence. The only convergent devices that have had long-term success are combinations of devices that were closely related, such as the TV/VCR combos. While the TV/VCR combo is not as popular as it once was, it’s still around, and I bought one last month for a specific purpose (among other things, I teach defensive driving classes).

OTOH, I wish the clown(s) who decided that all cell phones have to have cameras attached to them would die a slow, painful death. Since it’s hard to get a cell phone without a camera in it anymore, the marketers point to this as a great combo; I think it sucks, and I don’t want anything in my cellphone that doesn’t contribute to its function as a phone. Having a PDA attached might someday be marginally worthwhile (the combos I’ve seen along that line are not ready for prime time), but I have no use whatsoever for a poorly-integrated and low-quality camera or MP3 player in my cellphone. Those devices add to the cost, but not to the usefullness, of a phone.

The Celtic Fiddler

haggie says:

No Subject Given

Two layers of convergence for me:

-Home Media: My home built Sage PVR allows me to record and playback TV, but also me to stream TV to any laptop on my home Wi-Fi or anywhere else via Orb. Same with my music collection.

-Mobile: My Treo 650. Cell phone plus reasonably efficient email and passable basic web browsing. More importantly, I pop a 2GB SD card in it full of music and I’m listening to music while I’m at the gym and it automatically lowers the volume when I get an incoming call. Occasionally, I’ll put a TV show on the SD card that was recorded from my PVR and compressed in Windows Media format.

It all works very nicely, but it was hand-built by me and beyond the technical or patience level of about 99% of the population.

You’ll also notice that although I listen to and view mobile content I don’t pay a single cent for it to be delivered in a “mobile” format.

ps (user link) says:

Convergence of what?

Convergence has two very distinct connotations and it’s very important to distinguish between the two. One is the convergence of ‘bits’, the other is convergence of ‘electronics’. The first refers to the ability to flow content from a device to any other device. Example – DVR to TV, TV to computer, cell phone to MP3 player, etc. The second refers to cramming more functions into a single device. The constantly morphing cell phones and PDAs are egregious examples of the latter. I believe that the coonvergence of bits is both desirable and inevitable. The latter, however, is a hit-and-miss phenomenon that often ends up raising device prices but not user experience or corporate profits. As an investor, I’m always on the lookout for solutions that will free bits to flow from narrower to broader platforms.

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