Over the last two years, much of the attention on convergence has focused on the technological aspects, namely application, service, device and network. The previous one-way flow of content to consumers has morphed into a two-way connection of content and feedback.
This has dynamically changed the very nature of media, shifting target audiences from the general to the niche, increasing the volume of content as well as changing the manner of consumption.
“The convergence between technology, media and telecommunications has been a fundamental factor in this development,” notes Frost & Sullivan’s Mobile and Wireless industry analyst Pete Nuthall (http://www.mobileandwireless.frost.com
) “New technologies, first through the provision of broadband services and currently through increased functionality of mobile devices, as well as mobile operator strategies, have penetrated the mass market.”
This has provided users with the opportunity to directly control timing, format and the actual content itself, either through increased interactivity or by providing the necessary tools, thus enabling them to become content producers themselves.
The result has seen the blurring between journalist reporting and opinions. Further, this has increased feedback channels and created greater transparency, as well as accountability for the industry in terms of measurement.
Moreover, the cost of technology is proving to be a declining barrier to mass market participation in media creation. Although authorities continue to regulate the media, the Internet has enabled greater freedom of information.
Accessibility to the Internet and the explosion of digital TV have dramatically expanded the range of content and its distribution. The primary catalyst for media liberalisation has been the access to high bandwidth broadband services, which spurred Web 2.0.
Mobile data services are set to extend this evolution further. The delivery of media has also changed, with less importance given to programming schedules. The emphasis is now on release dates and ‘on demand’ content.
“Awareness of Web 2.0, through social networking, podcasts and user-generated content has already crossed over into the mass market supplemented by camera phones, MP3 players and broadband technologies,” remarks Nuthall. “Mobile operators in particular have the power to accelerate this further, by removing the barriers that currently exist.”
Media convergence has created various potential revenue streams for the telecoms industry. The success of converged content and channels can be seen in instances such as the success of iTunes.
However, there are concerns over the exclusive nature of some of these agreements. Advertising based models appear promising but the purchasing power of the targeted user as well as their ‘affinity’ towards subsidised/value offerings are still in question.
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