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Convergence: a Single Point of Failure?

Apparently, we, in the western world possess technology that SUCKS ASS !!  A few days ago, I came across some smarty-pants video-clip that extolled the virtues of Japanese cell phones and how “behind the times” the rest of the world is because of how the cell phone is so integrated into their lives. 

A Japanese mobile phone is one or more of the following:

1. A wallet–it’s tied to some sort of electronic payment system
2. A way to consume MANGA–extremely important
3. Your way to check-in at the airport for a flight
4. Your keys for your house
5. Your work badge/access card
6. Your cinema tickets
7. Your public transport pass
8. A fingerprint authentication device
9. A face recognition/authentication device
10. Your coupon at stores
11. A way to experience scents (wtf?)
12. A fashion consultant
13. Your video iPod with access to live TV
14. A mobile GPS
15. A reader for 1D and 2D codes for marketing and even on fruit and veg labels!

That is a lot of integrated functionality that is really the epitome of convergence. But it made me realize that everything on a single device represents a huge single point of failure: what happens when you lose your device?

One of the features we tout on the Enterprise Solutions side of the house with Nokia Intellisync Mobile Suite is the ability to remotely wipe a phone that has been lost. That takes care of the confidentiality problem, assuming a similar service exists in Japan. Now you’ve got a problem: unless you can easily replace the phone and get the various parts of your identity copied onto the phone easily, you are locked out of a lot of your life.

If all of that data is stored or at least constantly backed up on the network, it should be a relatively straightforward process. Certainly when your device is managed through Intellisync Mobile Suite, that is the case. How quick is that restore process and what are you supposed to do in the meantime? How do you manage all this stuff on a large scale?

The other problem I can see occurring with a converged device is one of battery life. When you have all that functionality in one device, how do you keep the device charged long enough to do anything? And the question of what do you do while the device is charging still remains.

It is clear that true convergence is going to require a lot more than just cramming more and more stuff into a device. There needs to be a whole supporting infrastructure around it not only to make the convergence more useful, but to gracefully recover in the event of a failure.

I’m sure there’s some part of this picture I missed. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments, please post them in the comments.


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