Three Types of Convergence – Is the Future Friendly?

Convergence, convergence and convergence, but what the heck are you talking about? Convergence can take many forms and since it is a buzzword for managers – along with words such as “viral”, “word-of-mouth”, “social media”, “sustainability” or “economic crisis” – there are still many individuals that have difficulties to define what convergence really is. According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, the word “convergence” refers as: “the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole”. Thus, in relation to this definition, the problem with the word “convergence” is that it can take many forms. To be more concise, it can take at least three forms that are useful to know for e-marketers.

The first form of convergence is used in terms of technological tools. In this way, most of useful (and even useless) electronic devices are now integrated in smartphones. In fact, most smartphones include (or will include) features of “traditional” cell phones, but also, devices like cameras, computers (desktop or laptop), electronic agendas, GPS, MP3 players and video game consoles. Moreover, it seems like a matter of time (but perhaps lots of time) before everyone has its own smartphone.

Convergence to Smartphones
Convergence to Smartphones

The second form of convergence is translated by the increase in the number of technological tools and transportations that converges to the Internet. Nowadays, it is possible to have access to the Internet in any transportation vehicle (airplanes, cars, boats and trains), as well as via many technological tools (cell phones, computers, interactive digital televisions, interactive kiosks and smartphones). Linking this second form of convergence with the first form leads me to predict that the convergence in terms of technological tools in smartphones will also result in an explosion in the number of smartphones kit available for any type of other technological tool, similar to the iPod car kit.

Finally, the third form is the convergence of the content of media to the Internet. Thus, more and more media such as advertising billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio stations, SMS, and television networks, produce content that includes an expression such as “visit our website at …”, that refers to a specific Internet website. By linking this form of convergence with the other two, media such as advertising billboards, radio stations, SMS, and television networks, will be able (in a near future) to instantaneously converge to the Internet by using smartphones. In the case of magazines and newspapers, it is still hard to predict what will happen, but the decreasing number of subscribers who actually read them will tend to convey those two media to concentrate their effort towards niche markets.

Convergence to the Internet
Convergence to the Internet - Not the isolated Internet metaphor anymore

In conclusion, if the “future is friendly” as the Telus catchphrase proposes, then everyone will end up in the next few years with a smartphone that they will be able to plug everywhere using some sort of kit. So, do you think the future is that friendly?

Jean-Francois Belisle

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