Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The C Word

I'm hearing that word convergence again! It has a very chequered history and not just that related to the dot com crash. It ripped a hole in the finances of UK mobile phone networks who bid fortunes for 3G licences which have not generated the cashflow bonanza from multi-media phones that was expected. It was also talked about, long before then, by media companies wondering how to maximise the revenue of their valuable (or not so valuable) content. This debate which I first encountered in the early 90s centred on whether media producers should purchase a cable network to provide an assured broadcast outlet and thus an extended shelf-life for all of their productions.

Today, the word is being pushed by advisers seeking to sell this content distribution argument to potential M & A clients in the telecoms and software businesses. The former seemingly seeking software with which to launch a service, the latter seeking content around which to build a service. And of course, the quadruple offering of cable TV, broadband, and both fixed-line and mobile telephone services to customers allows Virgin to amuse us with talk of "fourplay" being the next big thing.

Yet again, it's companies looking at what they could conceivably do rather than what potential customers might conceivably want. We didn't want internet-connected toasters, we certainly didn't want to pay high prices for entertainment bundles padded with turkeys and we don't really seem to want data services. Though we apparently did want SMS text messaging (a lower cost facility that none of the phone companies promoted).

The one true quadplay is the 4 Ps. You need them all. Bringing the product to the customer is great, but if the product isn't great then you're converging on disaster and no amount of fourplay will get you past first base.


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