Convergence – When All Are One; And One Are Many
Ten years ago I had a cell phone, computer, music player, and camera. These devices were separate. Today they are one device. Today I have that one device, but it also does video conferencing, is an FM radio, allow me access to all the media content on the internet like that of movies, TV shows and newscasts, video games, and many more things I cannot think of. But even though I have this converged device, I still have a TV at home, cable box, DVD player, computer and other similar devices. It can be assumed that in some future time, these devices will converge more where one device will so all the things we need. But what is it that we need?
Ten years ago when I had these separate devices, I never really thought that combining them would be a need. How on earth would I get my computer on my phone, or play music on my camera? Or why would I want to? It’s now standard protocol to have these items combined on any cell device. Being able to watch my home cable box, play my home game system are available on my phone, but how will my phone get rid of my 60 inch, or provide surround sound. I’m not sure, but I am sure that in 10 years, those items and others I have never even considered will be available, on one devise.
The convergence of media is really broken down to how we receive what is being sent, and how we send what we have to others. Time and consumer choice dictates what works best for them for a time, until a new media arrives to ‘better’ our interaction with content. Beta lost to VHS which lost to DVD which is losing to web streaming. We can only guess what web streaming will lose to. But the content is still the same. A movie is still a movie, no matter how we receive it. Music, news, content likewise has not changed; it’s just the delivery method. With the advent of new delivery methods, we become faced with the issue of new communication protocols of how, when, and to whom do we communicate with.
Even as media converges, we are still faced with more options then we know what to do with. We can access 10 separate items on one devise, but those 10 items, for the most part are not converged, rather, very diverged. If it was truly converged, we would have our content combined and delivered in one packed to one location. This is not the case, and because such, advertisers must seek out those different outlets that disseminate content and place buys on each of them, even though they are sharing the same information. I can get music on my phone, but which of the companies do I choose, even though they all do the same thing.
Converged devices have allowed the creation of mass production of content producers. These producers are all trying to find a niche for them to stand out, succeed, and profit by their product. This has created too many options in my opinion. And the decisions that go with these options are also fleeting as well. Friendster was great, then MySpace was great, now Facebook is great; but I’ll never use MySpace again. There are many other options for social networking on the web besides Facebook, and it’s only a matter of time before it gains its popularity; Facebook becomes like Friendster; then nothing. The availability of options does not create investment or loyalty. Coke and Pepsi have been arch rivals in the pop business, but besides Coke and Pepsi, there are not many viable options for cola, so loyalty ensues. Search engines may be dominated by Google, but MSN, Bing, Yahoo, Lycos and others clutter the landscape of options. Switching between them and seeking out better alternatives is how the game goes.
The bonus of a converged media device is that we can have access to all these options. We can customize out options. We can do more with less. But I would say we are actually doing less with more.