We’ve been talking about it for years and years. When I first started out as a young, hippie programmer who had long hair and bad breath, toiling in the underworld of Siemens, working out their WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) projects, I first came across the word convergence. There I was, fresh out of high school, on a salary that was so small that I wasn’t even in the tax bracket and they paid me monthly by cheque, where after everything paid for (my small car, and food), I had about Rm100 to spend on fun each month – the word convergence was thrown around like burgers in a high school food fight.
Of course, we all knew what happened to WAP. It evaporated. But it’s still the grandfather of much of the technologies we take for granted today. EDGE, 3G, 4G etc all got their start from the wonderful WAP speed of 14.4kpbs, much like how today’s gigaspeed lines stemmed from the noisy Motorola Modem running 14.4 on the internet when I first came to know of it.
Convergence is basically the coming together of different technologies. Telephony, voice, data, video etc. These are basically all converged now in our smart phones. Smart TV that can browse the internet and videoconference your friends. Phones that let you operate your gate and send a message to your video recorder to record the Liverpool match. Computers that double up as a coffee-holder…which has been there since the beginning of time.
And now, we see another range of convergence with Tech. The entertainment world. The recent news of Will.I.Am, the front man of Black Eyed Peas (remember, their hit, Where is the Love?) who is now Intel’s Director of Innovation, gives credence to the movement that we’ve known all along: Technology will blanket entire industries, including the entertainment and music world.
Many of course are bewildered.
According to Intel:
“In his unique role, will.i.am will collaborate with Intel on many creative and technology endeavors across the “compute continuum” that may include such devices as laptops, smart phones and tablets. Complimenting his visionary role as the front man for The Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am is also already working on music expressly for Intel.”
The bewilderment stems from the fact that Intel makes chips. Not potato chips. As in computer chips. If he fronted a consumer product, it would make sense. But a chip? What are they going to do, have a “Will.I.Am Inside” Logo?
Intel knows their number is on the board. If they keep doing what they do, they will go down the path of Lucent, TI and some of the other big boys that became, not so big. Intel makes chips, but their recent foray into mobile computing with their ultrabooks wasn’t a smash hit, and possibly why they had to let their CEO go. But it makes sense. For Intel’s survival, they will need to move up the food chain and start controlling more of the hardware/software line, and possibly even come out with their own brand of consumer products. That, or start shoring up battle with guys like ARM, Qualcomm and mobile chip players. It will likely be the former, and that’s where a guy like Will.I.Am plays the role. He will be like a vehicle to transport Intel from chip giant to snazzy new tech company.
Now, time for me to get a “Will.I.Am Inside” Ultrabook!