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Convergence: When Multiple Technologies Lead to the Same Place

I’ve always been a little bit of a techno-geek.  While I am rarely bleeding edge, I usually like to be one of the first to embrace a new technology.  Over the years, I have watched the crossover create convergence, and found myself amazed at the transition.  Does anybody remember writing memorandums and actually sending (or handing them to people)?  Does anybody remember the initial beauty of voice mail because we could leave our own message, not dictate to a receptionist?  And what about your first email? Or your first conference call?

If technology were a map, we’d find hundreds of roads leading to different places, but I would also venture to guess that many of the roads are leading to the same place: a place where all of these “technologies” funnel to a single device.

For most, their first venture with technology was using a computer as a word processor, or for spreadsheets.  Today, most eight years olds can do that.  Then, while chained to a desktop, we sent email.  Remember the days of working late because your desktop was your only access?  Then we transitioned to an “on the go” society with laptops that allowed us to be transportable with our work, but only if you could dial-in via a modem.  And today, I get email and the internet instantly on my cellphone.

I can’t remember the last time I did not check email.  In fact, for me, it’s almost as constant and instant as texting.  My life has converged to the point where email is a constant source of information.  The smartphone is the next generation of laptop, and wireless could be the greatest invention since electricity.  So what is next?  With Borders announcing their closing, it is obvious that the world of books is being replaced by the eReader.  Smartphone again?  Absolutely.  My son was proud of the fact that he read an entire book on a recent bus ride home from New York, and he did so on his phone.  And what about television?  Do we really need to be tethered to a cable to watch our favorite shows?  Probably not.

Between smartphones and the iPad (and other tablets), we are quickly leaving the world of laptops behind and moving on to faster, smaller, more instantaneous devices.  My prediction is that we will soon see a clamshell version of an iPhone (or similar smartphone).  Imagine an iPhone that opens like a clam to a screen that is double the current size.  That puts it fairly close to an iPad.  Tether it to a wireless keyboard and a 19” display and have you replaced both your desktop and your laptop?  Can you read all of your current books wirelessly?  Can you communicate instantly in virtually any place (email, chat, voice, etc)?  Can you catch your favorite show? Absolutely.

So, while the business world is still mired in discussions about the cloud, I guess I have progressed to the HORIZON – a place where the vision is endless and the possibilities only limited by your own mind.  The path is likely limitless, but in my mind, it is all beginning to converge to a single device that is easy to carry, and easier to use.  The desktop is gone replaced by the constant and instant nature of a smart device (can it still be called a “phone”).  There are many more roads that will converge on the journey, but for me the path has become fairly obvious.  I see many things in my daily life, and they all exist on the horizon of technology.

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