One thing jumps out at me: not all expected types of convergence actually happen - and even more happen *much* more slower than anticipated. But some occur almost overnight.
I'm starting to think about patterns here - what converges successfully? And what remains "unconvergeable"? And how predictable are these?
(Mobile Phone + Digital Camera) is one of the fastest, most successful examples of convergence.
But (Mobile Phone + TV) is one of the slowest - and is arguably an outright failure.
In the enterprise market, IP-PBXs have slowly reached the mainstream, blending voice and data networks. But it's taken 12 years or so, and the convergence process still isn't complete.
Ideally, I'd like to develop a "Theory of Convergence". At the moment, I regularly try to predict what will/won't blend, but it's on a case-by-case basis. So for example, recently I've been assessing whether the PC and phone might converge - and based on numerous specific reasons like battery size, ergonomics and distribution/business model, it seems highly unlikely.
Some of the elements of such a theory would be:
- technical convergence of *most* components of the convergent products, not just the central computing or communications element
- ability to converge distribution channels (this delayed enterprise VoIP for 5+ years)
- ability to converge useability and user-experience
- ability to converge business models / purchase process
So for example, converging handsets with small digital cameras has relied not just on the phone's processor, but also convergence of memory on flash RAM, small/lighter lenses for basic digicams, the reduction of the importance of printed photos meaning that camera business model is now "convergeable", and a mostly low-touch distribution model for cameras (ie they can be sold on a standalone basis by unskilled staff in retail or online stores). And basic digicams have small, sub-1000MAH batteries.
Conversely, these factors don't apply to high-end cameras which are essentially "unconvergeable"
As well as batteries, to my mind, PC and phone also have other "unconvergeable" aspects around distribution and business model. In particular, PCs aren't sold with associated "services" and, particularly, are not locked or customised for a given "service provider". Distribution is also a challenge, as are various aspects of user-experience and ergonomics.
PC/dongle (ie PC/module) is a slightly different convergence situation (dongles don't have batteries), but also falls down in the business model / distribution stakes. For example, dongles have legacy SIM cards, and attempts to integrate them with notebooks' connection managers are clunky.
It doesn't mean these types of convergence won't happen at all - but just that the Venn diagram won't overlap that much.
I've still got quite a lot of thinking to do about creating a generic Theory of Convergence - but this theme of "convergeability" is one I'll be coming back to over the next few months.