Convergence is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit and just to be sure we’re all on the same page, I went to Webster’s and found this:
The merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole.
That’s pretty clear and I’m willing to bet that this definition was not included 10 years ago. I wanted to take a minute and talk about various forms of convergence that are taking place today.
Real world to the virtual world – There is an increasing amount of overlap between the real world and the online world. Two examples are:
- Facebook has recently introduced virtual currency and the idea of monetizing their applications could generate up to $100 million this year. People paying to send virtual flowers to a friend or access to passive gaming among friends is easy to imagine. I’m sure the success of Apple’s iPhone app store helped drive this point home for Facebook.
- QR codes are something I posted about below and allow businesses to place these codes in magazines, stickers, patches, etc, which users can scan with their mobile device, thus directing traffic to their site or their store.
- GE’s example of augmented reality provides an example of how businesses could utilize this technology to encourage discovery while helping market their business. e.g. You see one of these graphics in a Twitter post. You print it out and it offers a map to an online scavenger hunt. Once you have collected all the items you’re automatically registered for a weekend in Paris.
Terrestrial Internet and the mobile Internet – The mobile web didn’t truly exist until the iPhone and now, due to the browsers like Skyfire and Firefox mobile, smart phones are increasing mobile Internet usage. User behavior between the terrestrial Internet and the mobile version will always be different to a certain degree because of 1) screen size 2) interface constraints (QWERTY and no mouse do not a laptop make) and 3) mobile behavior is more task focused. But there is an increasing amount coalescing between these delivery methods.
Online ecosystem – Increasingly, the Internet means many things to us. In the end it will become our source of all things information, entertainment and communication. (I posted about this way back in the day.) Gaming services like OnLive are pushing the envelope and often overlap two of the categories listed above.
This is all great and I can’t wait to see how these evolve. The part I’m most interested in is seeing what the convergence between all three of these looks like.