3rd May 2007

Convergence outcome unclear but opportunity rich

I read an interesting article on the recent iSuppli European Briefing series held in Hungary and reported by Drew Wilson in Electronic Business.

While iSupply sees consumers with 2 main devices: one handset for communications & information and the other one for entertainment with internet, gaming, music & video, Nokia forecasts the merging of all useful functions into one gadget. Its senior analyst also predicts the death of the stand alone camera.

Ideally users would gravitate towards a single device. However, categorizing “useful functions” is a formidable task. Consumers will weigh the pros & cons of the category contents. Ease of use, cost, weight, form factor, features available vs. used, services available & related logistics to use those features, product life time etc. are just some of the variables entering the picture. As a user, I would prefer a single device but not at the cost of sacrificing on ease of use of my “basic functions” requirement. e.g. my phone can have the latest add-on features but if the OS hangs or access time is long or I’ve to dig deep into my pockets to pay the service provider and with newer versions popping into the market before one even familiarizes with an older model- well that’s one road I’m not likely to tread on.

While I see one set of people converging to a single device, I see a not insignificant market (rather a bigger chunk) which would opt for 2 main devices. The low-mid end standalone digital cameras will become obsolete as the technology develops and costs come down. But that in no way signals the demise of high end standalone digital camera. People will still likely take the standalone camera for their holidays and serious clicking leaving the on-impulse shots and convenience pics to the converged portable device e.g. their mobile phone with camera.

The other interesting point highlighted was the change in biz model. The huge market comes along with myriad standards, IPs, tech know-how and more stake holders from varying & multiple sectors. The challenge will be to pave a seamless integration path. This will be mandatory given the life-cycle & competitive costs of consumer products

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