The Story Behind “Convergence”.

I wanted to share with you all something I just read, in which the context holds a high relevancy to modu. The content comes from a presentation by Young & Rubican´s entitled: My Brain Hurts. It can be found in its entirety here.

The section I want to share with you comes from slide 32 –

Today, analysts, consultants and engineers have convinced themselves that consumers want ‘convergence’. By which they mean any device that has aspects of television, computing and telephony built into it. But do consumers want convergence? Convergence devices usually offer a range of benefits. And consumers gravitate not to those that offer a range of benefits, but those who promise just one good one: • Most business executives choose to carry both a mobile phone and a mobile email device – when each device can both make voice calls and send email. • Most people also continue to wear a wristwatch, when their phone tells the time perfectly well. • They also continue to buy separate VCR players, DVD players and TVs, when combination devices are widely available and cheap. Convergence isn’t good marketing Indeed the history of marketing is the opposite of convergence. With converged cameras and camcorders, you either get a good camera or you get a good camcorder. Rarely both.

When scientists invented synthetic detergent in the 1940s, they saw it as an amazing product that would clean clothes, hair, floors and cars. But smart marketers recognized that consumers want different products for different needs, and launched separate shampoos, laundry detergents, floor cleaners and automotive foams based on synthetic detergent. Still think convergence is a good idea? Try washing your hair in laundry detergent.

Convergence failed in the past it’s an idea that has been with us for a very long time. In the 1920s, manufacturers put optional small nozzles and a reverse switch on to their vacuum cleaners so that you could also use them as a hair dryer too. The basic principle of convergence wasn’t attractive to consumers then, and it is no more attractive now. Where consumers are buying videophones and portable email devices, they are buying them because they offer them real, tangible benefits, not because they offer convergence. So So tech companies beware. You need to ensure your convergence concepts are driven by consumer need, not technological dreaming: • Do consumers really want a converged digital hub in their living room? Parents may like the idea of controlling all digital feeds in their home from the living room – but the last thing most sons want is In the late 1990s, mobile service providers invested upwards of $100 billion dollars in 3G phone licenses. The research said that everyone wanted to see the person they were talking to. But the research forgot to ask whether they wanted the other person to see them?

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2 Responses

  1. Hey Oren,
    I liked the post. Convergence works only for very specific things; usually focus works much better.

  2. Hi Oren,

    You’re article is nicely written, however, I disagree with you entirely.

    If we boil down trends we can see that today that the driving force behind purchases of mobile devices are: price and availability.

    Price is clear and is one of the reason most carriers subsidize high-end phones to encourage people to purchase phones which utilize more aspects of the carriers service and raises income.

    Availability doesn’t mean coverage (though that’s also a factor) but rather what services I can consume on my device. Today convenient phone, SMS, and internet have become a standard expected in the package. Other services are a bonus that some time catch on – butoften don’t.

    For instance – I own a cell phone and a separate mp3 player (even though my cell phone can play mp3). Because I prefer to have a device with focus on mp3 and video so I am willing to pay more money for it. This is true of many people as you pointed out in your article.
    But the type of services I am willing to pay more for is limited. So the question changes from “do I need [extension to device]” to “do I need [extension] for [price]”

    Do I need GPS? Or Do I need a GPS for another $20-50?
    Do I need a high-end digital camera? Do I need a high-end digital camera for another $20-50?
    etc.

    Most modern 3G devices give you a strong base with many software extensions for cheap or for free. And the wealth of applications offered thanks to the ease of software development and open source is enormous.

    Modu comes pretty naked. Not everyone can afford to develop and sell hardware jackets so the amount of extensions are limited, not to mention more expensive.

    So the availability of services I can consume on a Modu device without paying more is very limited.

    Personally I think if the Modu “base” was offered at $20-40 I would be hot to get it. For $200 for a base and 2 jackets (which almost guarantees I’ll need to buy more jackets in the not distant future) – why not get a G1 or iPhone or E71 that come with a strong platform that can be extended (often for free) permanently without need to carry more equipment?

    All in all it seems that right now Modu offers neither good price nor availability of services compared to the competition. And while the competition is improving itself, Modu just goes against the trend…

    That doesn’t mean Modu is a bad idea or bad implementation, just more of a niche product for certain people and not a market-changing device.

    IMHO of course.

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