"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Electronic Convergence

The idea of convergence is actually not that new. It has been the subject of many science fiction novels for decades – a single item that handles multiple functions at once. However, it hasn’t been a viable reality until recently with smaller, more efficient and faster computer processors.

Cell phones for instance, are no longer just portable telephones but they now function as cameras (for phone and video), portable computers which themselves contain hundreds of separate functions, voice recorders, multimedia players, e-book readers and even fashion accessories. In the past those functions all had to be filled by separate devices or one unwieldy and expensive device, with advances in technology however, these functions can all be combined into one. It’s not just cellphones however, portable multimedia players such as iPODs for instance have many of the functions listed above. Video game systems like the Xbox 360 can connect to the internet and download software. This trend towards convergence is meant to make the consumer’s life easier by providing them with one product to serve their wants instead of many, in the long run it has potential to not only eliminate industries.

What is important to note however, is that one highly generalized device is will never be able to outperform a highly specialized device in the given function, a camera phone for instance will never be able to take the place of an actual camera and an Xbox360 will never be able to replace a computer. Convergence is not meant to replace so much as it is meant to improve.

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