Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Convergence of Technology

Reading a number of articles recently on convergence, I've noticed a confusion between convergence of product categories and convergence of underlying technologies.

On the one hand, we have traditional marketing gurus such as Al Ries insisting that convergence of product categories is just as much of a myth now as it was before. On the other hand, we have articles describing all of the different areas in which convergence seems to be taking place. My belief is that both sides are right. Underlying technologies are converging - or at least combining - to create new product categories.

For example, companies are developing new phones that can link to fixed-line, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks. To be sure, several different technologies combine in these phones. But the extent to which these phones will be successful in the marketplace depends on making these technologies work seamlessly with each other. Thus the product category will be something new like "the anywhere phone", and the success of the category will depend, ironically, on how well the products hide the underlying technologies.

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