Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Wi-Fi Will Lead a Convergent Future

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Wi-Fi Will Lead a Convergent Future

Article excerpt

During the dotcom boom in 2000, convergence was the talk of the town. The phenomenon mainly appeared to manifest itself in strange marriages of media, and many companies built around it were doomed to failure.

The CueCat was a barcode scanner that enabled users to link to a website from a print article - a million of these gizmos were given away in the US, and the company made money from charging websites for the traffic it drove. Another system, WebTV, allowed people to surf the web on their TV - really slowly, and to the great irritation of everyone else in the house. Microsoft bought the company for an estimated dollars 500m.

The problem with these gadgets was that the consumer gained no real benefit from them. Web TV was clunky, slow and many websites did not display properly, while the CueCat was simply more trouble than it was worth, even if you happened to have a computer nearby when you were reading a magazine.

But convergence is back, and this time it is working on a much more profound level and is set to change the way we use much of the technology around us - from our TV to the humble washing machine.

Bonkers stuff still appears from time to time - Fridge TV, for example - but, with a few exceptions such as cameraphones, the merging of devices is not what is significant about convergence.

The real significance lies in what goes on behind the scenes. A few years ago, the media ecosystem comprised disparate media - TV, radio, newspapers. These rarely overlapped, either in the way they were consumed or the way in which they were delivered, and while you might have listened to the radio while reading the paper, any synergies between them were at the executional level - a magazine spin-off of a TV programme, or a radio show moving to TV.

Now, however, the internet is bringing these together. TV is being delivered over the internet - to set-top boxes, PCs, mobile phones and iPods, and 4% of radio listening is now online. Digital editions of newspapers are available on their websites, and even outdoor media are increasingly digital - Viacom is adding 2000 projectors and LCD screens to the London Underground network over the next couple of years.

CD sales are slowing as downloads grow in popularity and DVDs will follow as these forms of content become available online, accessible through a variety of devices. We can watch TV on a mobile phone, download music to a PC, use a PC as a video recorder - all of these are windows into a digital world. …

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