The Future of Convergence in 2015, presented at SXSW 2010
2015: The Future of Convergence
By David Berkowitz, Senior Director of Emerging Media & Innovation, 360i
The following talk was presented at South by Southwest (SXSW) at its Interactive
festival in March 2010. It looks at the future of how media and technology will converge
– or diverge – in the years ahead.
It’s meant to be presented rather than read, but for those who missed the talk, you may
still find it of interest to follow the slides along with the text. The accompanying text is
more of a director’s cut that closely mirrors the final talk, rather than a literal transcript.
Image credits appear at the end. You can read more or contact me on my blog at
MarketersStudio.com, 360i’s blog, or @dberkowitz on Twitter.
Thanks. - David
Hi, I’m David Berkowitz from 360i, a digital agency based out in New York, and I’m here
to give you a taste of where convergence is going.
President Palin just put the first moose on the moon. Commemorating the event, R.E.M.
updated its classic hit to “Moose on the Moon,” irking their fans – and Andy Kaufman
fans – but propelling them to the top of the charts.
The sixth season of Jersey Shore just aired, featuring The Situation’s Six Pack in 3D.
Oprah, tired of helping housewives and now shamelessly embracing product placement,
last week declared Frito Pie a superfood. Frito sales are up 800%.
I want to tell you a little bit about convergence today, in 2015. But I’m not going to give
you one version of the future. Today, you get three.
There are three versions of the future of convergence that may come to pass, and all
will affect you very differently – whether you’re a marketer, technologist, or content
owner – and it will affect every one of you as a consumer.
But it’s not going to happen on its own. You’re all in a position to bring any of these
futures to life.
A lot of hype’s been building for the first version of the future. And I know just the person
to sell it to you.
You want the future of convergence? I’ll give you convergence. Things are going to
converge like you’d never believe. Even convergence is going to converge.
How many media devices do you think you’ll have in 2015? 10? 20? 100?
No, in 2015, you’ll have just ONE media device. ONE! Look, you can count it on your
finger – just one finger needed! You can even count it on your nose! That’s right, one
device, one future, and you bet your life it’s going to change the world.
So what does it do, you’re wondering now. I’m going to tell you what it does. What
doesn’t it do?
You want computing? Flip open the built-in stand in the back, turn on the laser-projected
keyboard, and navigate away with hand gestures. Worried about multitasking? It doesn’t
just double-task or triple-task or multi-task – it omnitasks. That’s right, you can literally
run everything at the same time! Try it, if it runs any number of tasks short of infinity,
you’ll get your money back. You’ll also have to send your device back and then you
won’t have a media device at all.
That’s not all though. You want a phone? This phone doesn’t run on 3G. It’s not 4G. It’s
not 5G. How many Gs is it? It’s 2G! Hey, the network still sucks and we’re now finally
being honest about it. And if you’re in Austin for South by Southwest, it’ll run at half a G
What about TV? You want your reality shows? Your gritty cop dramas? Your Conan?
He’s still on the air, bigger and better and Irisher than ever.
You’ve got your TV right on here, on demand, anytime, anywhere, anyhow, anyhoo!
And it projects anywhere you want, any size you want – 30 inch, 60 inch, up to 150
inches – hi-def, hi-res, full 3D, with 4D in the works. I know what you’re thinking – you
and your dirty minds five years back before the current administration started cleaning
up America, but you can’t get that kind of content on here, as it’s sold exclusively
What about books? Who’s got the attention span for books? You’ve got vooks – video
books, twooks – books written out as tweets, Fooks – books written in Facebook
updates. But you want your books? It’s an e-reader too. Read it yourself, let it read to
you, let the book read itself and tell you about it later.
And THAT’S NOT ALL!
It’s a camera, camcorder, recipe organizer, takeout menu organizer, business card
scanner, meeting planner, a personal assistant, kid’s toy, chew toy, it does gaming, it
does flaming, it’s a white board, a cutting board – one device, one for every member of
the family, even for your genetically enhanced cyborg monkey!
And if you order one today, free shipping and handling, teleported to you wherever you
are five years in the future.
Or the future could go something like this…
In the media landscape of the future, you see those big structures way down yonder?
Those are the silos. And here in Texas, they grow ‘em real tall.
These silos resemble a world not too different from the way you remember it in 2010.
Back then, you talked a lot about TV as the first screen, the PC as the second, and
mobile as the third. Things have changed a little since then, but what’s grown out of that
is still sown from the same field.
Your TV’s still for watching TV, even if you watch some online video on it and tweet
about it from the TV set. Some polls and content are interactive. What’s telling is that
while you see poll results on screen, offers and product samples requested from ads
are sent to you via email, Facebook mail, or even direct mail – no one accesses that
directly on the TV.
Your computer is still your computer. Some of the netbook craze has died down and it’s
largely a laptop world, with some bigger or smaller than others. Laptops are still the
most efficient way to access Internet-based content and your digital media, even as
your media’s mostly in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere.
You’ve got a gaming console, which for many is also a set top box, but not everyone’s a
gamer of course. They are still used for Troo-Ray libraries, the upgrade from Blu-Ray,
though with the expanded access to entertainment on-demand, most homes do without
the discs. Even most games are played on-demand, tied to your gaming ID and not the
discs they used to come on.
Then there’s your phone, which stopped being just a phone a long time ago. It does
finally rival some of the better digital cameras out there, especially as Nikon just
surpassed Nokia in US mobile phone market share. Panasonic phones have made
some headway too, with their phone-based 3D camcorder. The phone is also the
preeminent portable gaming device now, which was already happening back in your
time, and anyone can access their whole video library, TV shows and movies included,
on their phones. I mean their mobile devices… old habits die hard.
Some things are different. I recall five years back there was a lot of talk about this iPad
thing – Apple’s shenanigan, right? From the guys who made the Newton? Yeah, the
future doesn’t always belong to those who say they’re making history.
There’s one more way convergence might play out in 2015, but I’m not sure you wanna
hear about it, as it could keep you up at night.
It’s 2015, and convergence proved to be some failed fad, like the TV/VCR combo or the
fish you hung on your wall that also sung to you. It wasn’t some match made in heaven,
like the pretzel dog.
After years of trying, most of us accepted that the iPhone was never much of a phone,
that the TV was never a great Internet device, and no one – I mean NO ONE – wanted
to order a gallon of milk from some console on their refrigerator.
Beyond the lack of convergence though, what caught most everyone off guard was the
rapid divergence. Instead of everything coming together, it all fell apart. It happened to
such an extent that the show 60 Minutes has been broken into 10 six-minute episodes,
and Andy Rooney’s in every single one. [Andy Rooney voice] Why do they call the
opposite of convergence divergence anyway? Shouldn’t it be provergence?
The provergence – I mean divergence - affected your media devices too, not just the
media. There’s the iPad, the iPad Nano, the iPad Shuffle, the wall mounted iPad, the
car-mounted iPad… a different one for every room, every occasion, every possible use.
The Kindle’s still here. But you have one for regular print books, another for large print
books, one for cookbooks, one specialized for Jason Bourne novels, one for magazines,
one for newspapers – actually, two for newspapers, one each for tabloid and
broadsheet. There are 25 different models out there right now, with a new one coming
out next month made of foam that toddlers can play with in the bath.
The average American – not household – now owns fifteen internet connectivity
devices, three digital cameras, three and a half phones, four TVs, and seven gaming
devices of varying sizes.
Home builders have had to quintuple the number of electrical outlets in homes, but you
still can’t find a damn one that works in the airport. It’s great that we switched to a larger
share of renewable energy resources, but that hasn’t come close to keeping up with
demand, leading to rolling blackouts last month across the Midwest, during an
especially cloudy period no less so the solar chargers were far less effective.
There are other unexpected effects from all the divergence. The man purse is alive and
well, and it’s grown bigger, with built-in power adapters standard in models from Old
Navy to Louis Vuitton.
Full Throttle, the energy drink, even includes ambient power adapters on its cans. There
are still those who fantasize of living off the grid, but it’s the grid that’s living off of us.
So there you go:
Three futures, all of which are fair game for you right now. It’s your call, you folks right
here in Austin, those following along at home, and those who don’t even know I’m here
yammering about this right now.
And now… what’s that? The first moose to land on the moon unfortunately landed on
the moon’s first game reserve. That’s what he got for making history. No one ever said it
You all have a nice evening now, and a happy future to every last one of you.
Paul Stadnyk, part of 360i’s top-notch design & development team, created the futuristic
360i logo and slide template.
Dan Shust, a real visionary at Resource Interactive, invited me to join the SXSW series.
I workshopped this talk on quite a number of my colleagues, and my wife. Their
feedback made the final product inherently better. If I listened to all their advice, it would
have been better still. One of these days, I’ll learn.
SXSW 2015 logo and Troo-Ray logo: http://cooltext.com/
Sarah Palin, 2015 President: http://www.lucente.org/blog/media/1/20080911-
Jersey Shore’s Situation: http://ashcan.wordpress.com/
3D glasses: http://www.1freeaday.com/pda1/images/1/0/0/0/7/3/1/1//inset.jpg
O Logo: http://www.cathryngriffith.com/whp/images/logo-Oprah.gif
Salt Lick: http://www.saltlickbbq.com/shoppingcart/products.php?product=Salt-Lick-
Palin cleans up America: http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2009-11-03-sarahpalin.jpg
Atari joystick: http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0000645DD.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
Old phone: http://hoketronics.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/old-cellphone.jpg
Nikon logo: http://press.nikon.se/pressbilder/NIKON/nikon_svart_logo.jpg
Internet fridge: http://www.techepics.com/files/refrigerator.jpg
60 Minutes logo:
Andy Rooney: Screen grab of a video at CBSnews.com
Car (with the mounted iPad):
Amazon Kindle: http://imaginezautrechose.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/67454-
Very Hungry Caterpillar:
Electrical outlet: http://www.mindrights.com/files/2007/07/tamper.jpg
Man purse: http://files1.cityweekend.com.cn/files/images/20080423/image-20080423-
Full Throttle: http://www.thecoca-
Mounted moose: http://www.wildlifetreasures.com/images/moosehead2.jpg
Moose space helmet: http://spacetoys.com/prodimages/helmfront2x.jpg.jpg
Frito Pie and the Cyborg monkey: My own photos