Topic: Book Club

Ries: Wsj Finally Questions Convergence

Posted by Anonymous on 500 Points
Could this be it? Monday's WSJ featured a brilliant article by Jason Fry on the follies of convergence.

I have it posted on my blog today:

You can also read it on the, "All in One?" March 26th. However you might need a subscription:

So do you agree? Will convergence finally be discredited? The iPhone has got people's attention like many convergence hopes before it (pc/tv, universal remotes, auto/planes) But when the iPhone goes down will the convergence craziness go with it?

Moderator Note: This discussion refers to the book The Origin of Brands by Al and Laura Ries (topic: branding). Click the title to learn more. Then join the conversation. We'd LOVE for you to participate!
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  • Posted on Accepted
    I think this quote sums it up best...."think jack of all trades, master of none," for the most part. There are, however, products that lend themselves to convergence, as I've observed and you've mentioned in "The Origin of Brands."

    It's not either all black (convergence bad) or all white (convergence good)-I'll say it's a really dark charcoal grey.

  • Posted on Author
    There are always a few exceptions to any rule. The same is true with convergence, the Swiss Army knife succeeded, most products fail.

    The question is, are you going to base your business strategy on the laws that work most of the time or on the exceptions that work occasionally?

    Look at pharmaceuticals, if a drug works 70% of the time researchers are ecstatic.

    Divergence works 90% of the time. Around 10% of the time people will opt for convenience and might go for convergence.

    But I rather put my money on a divergence horse than a convergence one.
  • Posted by Phoenix ONE on Accepted
    Great Article - whether it is valid or not is another question.

    Convergence is the current "buzz term" for the;
    all in one, ultimate, must have,lastest generation, 2.0, big mac therory -----IT replace Build it and they will come with-Build it with enough bells, whistles and gizmos and they will want it.

    I sincerely believe the key to the trend is this

    People may want it, but will they demand to have it, and most importantly do they need it.

    If we cannot or will not separate needs, demands and wants in our marketing value propositions - we now call it convergence, or asI like to call it the marketing value perceptions namely advertising!

    Hope this spurs some thoughts for the board.

    Good Luck & Happy Marketing ~ Bill

  • Posted on Accepted
    I agree with the all the aforementioned points. If someone is really interested in assessing the market viability of a new tech product, they should look into the book "The Change Function: Why some technologies take off and others crash and burn" by Pip Coburn. In it, the author contends new tech products' long term mass market potential beyond early adopters, is influenced by the following formula:

    Change = Actual Consumer Crisis - Total Perceived Pain of Adoption

    Until the TPPA is significantly lower than the actual consumer crisis, that product won't have much potential. My relational thinking to our discussion and Laura's point...well if there are separate products that do the job better than the convergent product...what's the real competitive product advantage? NONE! Convenience alone will NEVER be enough of a motivating factor to foster mass market adoption.

    The iPhone and its new competitive offering from Microsoft (Yes MS is now in the ball game too with this product:)
    will get an upgrade in the coming years, rendering the features of the old one not as attractive. These products will maintain a small market share for the consumers that want something novel and new. What MS and Apple are getting better at, is designing the interface and menus so they aren't so daunting to us. Because as humans, we never read product manuals.
  • Posted on Accepted
    There's certainly a lot of hype surrounding the iPhone, but I don't think this product is novel enough to completely discredit convergence. Apple happens to have a small, vocal and very loyal following of Mac-lovers.

    The timing of the WSJ article is interesting, especially after reading The Origin of Brands. I recently had a meeting with a client that provides health care services and one of their partners that provides retail space in its pharmacies. These stand-alone pharmacies have multiple locations and serve a segmented market (low income, ethnic) in the local area. They are adding more types of specialized health care services to their locations, with the intention of taking the focus away from selling drugs, to becoming a one-stop health shop for its customers. Based on the ideas in the book, this will eventually fail horribly...unless the convenience factor actually makes it work.

    For certain industries, such as drug stores, convergence is their answer to competing with big companies like Wal-Mart, whom they cannot compete with on price. Do you think this a smart strategy, providing convenience and possible cost-savings on health care, or is this just another convergence plan destined to fail?
  • Posted on Accepted
    Good for you and Al. Hopefully we'll hear more from the WSJ in the near future on this subject ;)
  • Posted on Accepted
    Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the Marketing Profs Book Club review of our book The Origin of Brands which I co-wrote with my daughter/partner Laura Ries.

    And an extra special thanks to CK for all her hard work and dedication to the improvement of marketing minds everywhere.

    For more branding information and debates check out

    Laura's blog at:

    and CK's at:

    - Al Ries

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