The Feeling at CES: True Convergence Starts Now

We've Got the Hardware, We've Got the Software, We've Just Been Waiting on the Users

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Dan Shust Dan Shust
After almost a full day navigating the labyrinth of the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show, I can honestly say that the coolest thing I've experienced isn't a gadget, a big flat TV or a great mobile device (hey, Apple isn't here). It's more of a feeling. A feeling that finally, after years of promise and the same old demos, a perfect storm is brewing. As Steve Ballmer said in his preshow keynote, a time like this only comes around once every 10 to 15 years. I think we might finally be there (really, this time).

Hardware has evolved to a point where it is no longer a limiting factor of the experience: beautiful HD displays, networked gaming platforms, mobile phones with usable screens and keyboards, the netbook form factor, wireless and broadband connectivity, low storage costs, etc. This piece of the puzzle has been mature the longest -- a myriad of hosts just waiting.

Operating systems, applications, interfaces and content have matured to the point where they can take advantage of this hardware and its networked potential. From multitouch interfaces and widgetized content to location awareness and rich experiences, the software is in place.

We've been in possession of some of these technological advancements for years, some for well over a decade. Frankly, all we've been waiting on is the users. We simply had no idea what to do with them, how to bring them all together, why to bring them all together. Web 2.0, the social web, taught us that it was OK to store things in the cloud, and it was a lot more rewarding to share experiences with others in our family, friends, our extended networks and sometimes with complete strangers. Enhance the experiences with personal history, portability and open standards ... the picture comes into focus.

The promise of the "web" is coming true, and it is much grander than we ever dreamed. These changes will force us to rethink our traditional approaches to advertising and marketing (again). That's a good thing. True convergence starts now. Bet on it.

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Dan Shust is director of emerging media at Resource Interactive, where he mans the research-and-development lab. He blogs at resource.com/wethink and danshust.com, and you can follow him on Twitter, @getshust.
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