Convergence at the root

In the life-long love affair with technology that I’ve lived, there is a truth that I can’t deny; So many people have done things just because they could, as opposed to solving a problem. This is the habit that I largely blame the dot-com disaster for.

“That exciting new world where people with money spoke to excited techies and wonderful digital follies were made.”

Hardware product creation wasn’t so different. Manufacturers were keen to create gadgets and gizmos and for large number of non-creatives the fall-back was convergence. If you can’t think of anything new, take two old things and mix it together. And in some cases, just in the same cases, with no conversation between the two functions – The Amstrad Mega(Drive) PC being the worst culprit I can think of at this time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amstrad_Mega_PC).

This backward “I have a hammer, what shall we make with it” attitude is alive and well today, living off interactive services (see “Beware the Buzz Words”). I guess for myself though, this is why I’ve respected Nintendo; They seemed to be asking themselves what kind of game they wanted to make, and then developed hardware to support that vision.

Today hardware convergence almost seems a moot point. Our pocket powers are beyond anything we could have dreamt of when Amstrad’s Mega PC hit the shelves of Dixon’s. We carry more music than we have time to listen to. Our book collections are there. Movies in HD, and now, what is rapidly becoming the largest gaming platform ever (if that hasn’t happened already) – certainly the most ubiquitous. But now convergence has another challenge.

iPhones, Androids, Windows and Blackberrys all need to meet the challenges of convergence of services and compatibility therein. Where my calendar talks to my map app. Anyone who sends me a any sort of communication is already in my address book and connectable through twitter or WhatsApp. Hardware functions talk to social networks so my camera can send directly to Facebook or youtube… so on and so-forth.

“Applications we install, are now expected functions.”

Windows Mobile 8, although largely embraced, rapidly loses affection once twenty-somethings realise it doesn’t have Instagram. And Blackberry also has to chase the suite of expected apps in order to offer what is now a baseline “phone”

So now a phone that is a camera (in hardware terms) is no longer the magic, The importance is where it always should have been; focused on the user’s requirement of what it is they feel they naturally want to do, not in isolation of features, but spanning those features for the benefits.

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