It was in 1997 when I first heard the words “media convergence.” My boss at that time was talking about how in due time TV, telephone, cable, and the Internet will be one and will change some of our daily habits like watching TV, communicating with people, and accessing information. I knew that it was not his idea but had read it somewhere as he was a bookworm. He explained to me that media convergence is a synergy of different forms of media through the help of technology.
From 1997, a lot of technological breakthroughs occurred. Cell phones became digital instead of analog. Cable companies started to become wireless. Internet access was rapidly expanding to a greater number of people. Mobile phones were getting smaller and more affordable. More features were installed. Telephone companies were buying and partnering with Internet providers and later on after the millennium, they provided their own mobile and broadband services. Cable companies has either disappeared or merged with big telecommunications companies.
After 2001, MP3’s become popular, electronic gadgets installed applications like web browser and networking tools, mobile phones have digital camera, MP3 player, camcorder, voice recorder, GPS, and other advanced features, tools, or applications. Radio and TV programs were already available online. Printed materials such as books, magazines, and newspapers were gaining popularity in terms of access.
The Internet is a vital link towards this digital revolution but since it is already past infancy stage, the term is no longer applicable; I believe “digital adaptation” is more appropriate. When mobile phones became sophisticated, telecommunication companies has crossed the barrier of audio and video programming into the Internet. Computer functions as well as operating systems are embedded in mobile and other electronic gadgets such as gaming devices and consoles. Media convergence has then become a reality following these developments. This has been made possible because of the Internet.
The effect was tremendous to the human population. While majority were just too happy with digital adaptation, there are some people who were not only unhappy but mad as well. Mobile phones eliminated long distance operators. Broadband companies destroyed Internet cafes. In other words, hundred thousands of jobs and people were displaced. Downloading became popular and copyright owners shouted foul and demanded rigid online policies regarding intellectual properties. Electronic consumers are fed with new products and various technologies become passé after six months to one year while millions are having a difficult time coping with the advances in terms of money.
Lastly, media convergence has brought millions of junks. As tools, gadgets, audio and video electronic systems are rapidly changing and people are acquiring the latest models, it can only mean trashing the older models. Think of how many millions of mobile phones, laptops, desktops, CRT TV’s, LCD’s and other electronic items are thrown in the garbage yearly?!
The gaining popularity of Smart TV’s and the resurgence of Plasma TVs have spurred new demands for these products to benefit the effects of media convergence. We can only know the effect of these on jobs, environment, copyright owners, and to people later.