“Convergence” – Past, Present and Future

Technological Convergence

In 1996, if you were asked, “How do you use your personal computer?” or “How do you use your mobile device?” and could answer:

  1. watching movies
  2. making phone calls
  3. accessing the internet
  4. buying stuff
  5. using software – games and utilities

Odds are extremely high that if you had a PC you would only be using it for software and if you had a mobile device, you would only be using it for making calls. By 2004, many PC owners could claim they were using their system to do all five. By 2012, the same could be said for smart phone users.  By 2020 with 3-d printers, you might even be able to print your next house.  Some companies are already doing just that, and more.

As we move along, computers and smart devices are becoming more alike, and increasingly capable of doing more. The same applies to software, mobile apps and web sites. Already, there is a lot overlap between apps, software and web sites.

One device can be a Swiss Army Knife of features and functions.   That is technological convergence.

Convergence of Payment Systems

We are now in the midst of the convergence of payment methods and systems.  The goal of financial convergence is for anyone with legitimate currency to be able to conduct transactions with anyone else and maintain a record of it.

This has been the primary obstacle of the Mobile Market, but one that is being rapidly overcome through the efforts of Visa, MasterCard, Mobile Carriers and other financial institutions.

Contextually, Paypal was first introduced in 1998, making it easy for webmasters to monetize websites – it served as the #1 catalyst to monetizing the web.  Since then, the Internet has gone from just a few million to a few billion users – the majority of whom do not have credit cards. But, almost every mobile user does have a mobile carrier.

Forbes Digital Commerce (FDC) is the closest to bringing mobile app monetization up to the same level as Internet Marketing. It enables payments through mobile carriers in over 80 countries in addition to handling Paypal and traditional credit card payments.

Convergence of Global Business Standards

Ease of Doing Business is an index maintained by the WorldBank that rates how difficult any business process is on a per country basis.  It examines how many documents are involved in exporting or importing a product; how many different taxes a business must pay; to how many days it takes to securing a business license.  It covers a lot of things and can be regarded as one of the best products of the WorldBank.

This is the one area that lags behind everything else for a wide range of factors.  It goes a long way toward explaining why a little under half of the countries in the world have made it easy to do online transactions.   Some areas simply lack infrastructure, others are difficult to reach, some are  in the midst of war, political turmoil, afflicted by natural hazards, or subject to rampant corruption.  Even so, virtually none of these actually precludes the ability to do business online, or otherwise.

What can be said is that the effort to truly make the Internet a global – ubiquitous service has only been seriously examined and financially backed in the past 5 – 10 years.  Again, the Internet as a global phenomenon only started to take off around 2002.  Ten or twelve years is not a lot of time when it comes to the logistics of enabling an internet cafe on every street corner…  Really, up through 2004, mainstream media was still questioning whether the Internet was still just a passing fad.

In Summary

Again, I fall short in covering everything in sufficient depth – except the failure is underscored by the almost quaint fact that we are all just beginning to see the potential to where all of this can go.  In twenty years, we will still be able to say the same thing – by simple appeal to history.   I’ve seen some of the most exciting apps and business functionality over the past two weeks that I’ve seen really since my first introduction to Paypal.   Forbes Digital Commerce is itself something that every mobile developer should explore.  Their company is two months old, backed by veterans and some of the top names in the financial industry.

On Wednesday, I’ll try to focus on something more tangible and actionable.

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Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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