Monday, December 06, 2004

The great digital divide

In some ways, the push towards digital convergence can be pretty divisive. Ask any spokesperson from any technology company about how convergence is going to take place, and you will probably end up with different visions and scenarios.

This view was reinforced when I hopped over to Bintan Island for the ITJourno Asia Forum some weeks back. Amongst those who presented at the forum, it was interesting to note that while most agreed home is the hotbed of convergence, they differed on the role each will play in the grand scheme of things.

D-Link, for instance, has a “Home of the Future” vision based, predictably, on wireless technology. The company believes convergence in a smart home will involve networked peripherals and remote accessing provided by wireless connectivity. But for Fujitsu PC Asia, it’s a different story. Like Microsoft, Fujitsu is rooting for the PC to dominate the smart home.

Not everybody is a fan of smart home, though. PC Magazine’s John Dvorak pooh-poohed the idea in a recent editorial, accusing that such trivial pursuits actually caused companies like Microsoft and Intel to become distracted. Dvorak went further to say that smart home solutions cater to decadent needs that contribute nothing to society. I think he missed the point. Frivolous or not, our wants and needs evolve over time. And like one reader puts it, “I know you want everything to stay as it was in your glory days in the late 80’s but life moves on, even if you don’t.”

Ultimately, there will be old coots like Dvorak who will remain unconvinced about the merits of smart home, just like those who were sceptical about the Internet when it first came around.

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