Convergence Ushers In New Economy
The Content: Although the market is primed for a true convergence device, a key step in realizing the most valuable features of convergence is the universal availability and compatibility of content. While the mobile Web continues to give end users easier and easier access to content, until recently, restrictions around audio content for mobile devices have impeded the realization of a truly successful convergence device. Today, content providers recognize the need to embrace all things digital. Industry milestones such as the recent agreement between Apple and EMI to sell DRM-free music, coupled with cheaper plans from cellular phone providers to accommodate the expected rise of mobile Web usage, will enable a single device to deliver consistent quality in each of its promised functions.
The Accessories: Although the industry has been anxiously awaiting a device that can deliver the functionality and quality needed to make convergence a success, consumer gadgets have evolved into much more than vessels for content. We know that consumers are willing to invest significant amounts of money in their devices not only because they carry them everywhere and use them for multiple functions, but also because these devices have become a symbol of style and status. Evidenced by new launches such as the LG Chocolate, iPod nano and Motorola Razr, it’s clear that aesthetics are as critical to consumers as quality, functionality and innovative features. In keeping with this trend, savvy consumers are seeking accessories that help them get more out of their portable communication and listening experiences. Ranging from FM transmitters to fancy carrying cases to premium earphones, accessories are becoming a critical part of the portable device ecosystem. As a result, manufacturers are tasked with making accessories as innovative, functional and fashionable as the devices to which they attach.
With devices that deliver easy-to-access content, and accessories that take the mobile experience to the next level, it’s clear that the time is right for convergence to go from pipe dream to reality. While the industry is on the cusp of a major change, the explosion of the iPod ecosystem has taught every industry player—from accessories manufacturers to service providers and retailers—a valuable lesson about how to capitalize on the success and popularity of a single device. With all that we’ve learned during the past six years, savvy manufacturers are well-positioned to take advantage of the new converged device economy.