It’s a widely acknowledged fact that the Internet is a key driver of PC adoption, especially in the consumer segment. By connecting to the Internet, a plethora of applications and services get opened up, something that a standalone model would be unable to access.
The Internet-connected PC also gave rise to the concept of a device where the three ‘C’s of communication, computing and content would converge. More specifically, the notebook genre was considered to be ‘the’ convergence device, given its bonus promise of quad-play, as it added mobility to a triple play of data, video and voice.
The mobile telephony revolution shattered that assumption and smart phones became the new contenders to the convergence throne. But, just when smart phones appeared to be stealing the show over notebooks, the tablets arrived with great aplomb.
And yet, those who ignored the good old TV all the while did so at their own peril, as the idiot box silently underwent a series of makeovers to emerge as a sleek, Internet-capable device. From being big and bulky, it rapidly transformed into something even bigger yet beautiful. And no, it’s not yet rushed to anoint itself as ‘the’ convergence device.
However, TV’s redefined position in the ICT marketplace has underlined an important insight into consumer expectations—that all this while, consumers have not been looking at a one-size-fits-all remedy, contrary to a make-believe assumption that marketers have repeatedly fallen prey to.
As an Alcatel-Lucent research finding points out, consumers have been warming up to the idea of multi-screen services. An analysis on Alcatel-Lucent website reads: They want true multi-screen services that offer seamless access to the same content and quality of experience on any screen, anytime, anywhere.
An implication of this is that consumers would prefer a screen—of the notebook, tablet or TV—depending on where they are and how they are placed.
The research doesn’t tell if consumers would be interested in the screens being able to connect to multiple devices as well. Well, why not? But then screens can already be connected to various devices. A TV, for example, can be connected to a DVD player, a set-top box, or even a PC. Likewise, a smart phone can interact with a PC or a TV for transfer of content, isn’t it?
Yes, but such ways of connecting are rather primitive and don’t really lead to the uniform quality-of-experience (QoE) that consumers are increasingly demanding across multiple screens.
An answer perhaps lies in separating the screen from the device, logically, not physically.
A more long-term answer lies in having the multiple screens seamlessly connect to each other. To make this happen, interfaces and standards may need to be defined, or maybe a new smart breed of set-top boxes would do the interfacing trick.
It was the networking of the PCs that led to the concept and evolution of the Internet. The networking of all the diverse screens could lead to a more magnificent…umm…the Internet, what else!
Coming back to the concept of ‘the’ convergence device, it begins to sound monopolistic and hierarchal. By comparison, inter-screen interoperability is a more democratic, modern concept—a 2.0 thing.
(As published in Deccan Chronicle on 30 September, 2010.)

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