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With digital, all things converge

As we go digital, all things converge. This was a mantra from the mid-80′s – largely focused on media convergence. Today, however, a level of convergence is developing that is both exciting and disconcerting for end users. Google, Microsoft, and Apple are battling it out for control of the living room. Google and Microsoft (now with recent social search partnership with Facebook – see six things you should know about the merger) seek to control search. Yahoo is in there somewhere, but I think they’re mainly seeking relevance. Music, video, and newspapers are converging on the iPad and, once they exist, other tablets. In the physical world geography doesn’t provide the same level of amplification of effect and integration that the digital world does. For example, if a car manufacturer builds a new factory in a different part of the world, other than the engineering expertise, most expenses must be duplicated as they were with previous buildings. The new factory only adds volume to the overall supply chain, it doesn’t amplify the capacity of other factories. Online, however, things are different. Connecting digital entities produces an amplification effect that we don’t often see in the physical world. Facebook becomes more valuable with each plugin, each new feature, and each new user. When Facebook and Bing begin sharing resources, they not only add search features to “likes”, they lock in existing customers. Integration is power. This integration makes our lives easier, but it also gives increasing power to a smaller and smaller number of companies. I have less diversity of “must have” tools in my life now than I did when Microsoft ruled the world. Today I need: Apple, Google, Twitter, WordPress. That’s about all I need to get by online. I have many other “nice to have” tools, but the integration and power centering now evident in the digital world makes those increasingly obsolete.