Advertisement

Blog

Battle of the Digital Ecosystems

This year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had a few themes to take away, but the one that seems to define the rest is that the old model is dead. We are firmly at a new frontier of technological development, and whatever new age we're entering, it's being shaped by {complink 379|Apple Inc.}. Everyone else seems to still be struggling out of the rigid digital ecosystem developed in the 1980s.

For example, Kurt Smith, a VP of {complink 5926|Verizon Communications Inc.}, believes a mature supply chain requires three levels: the content creators/manufacturer, the distributer, and the retailer — for no other reason than that's the way it's always been done.

Verizon is already behind. This is a lag built upon a generational gap that we can only vaguely understand. For those of us who didn't grow up with the Internet, the texting of the newer generation is confounding. Worse, today's toddlers are using iPads in the cradle, so in 10 years the gap will be even larger and more confusing.

And yet, the majority of the panel sessions at CES were filled with old white men. I saw no minorities on the panels. There were two women in the sessions I attended, one older woman who wasn't even familiar with the panel she was moderating, and another who seemed more afraid of technology than anything else, a disturbing lack of diversity that didn't reflect the audience in any way.

On the show floor, it was shown just how this disparity is playing out.

George Haber, CEO of Cresta Tech, said, “If it can be done in software, it will.” And to expand upon that, if your product can be replaced with software, it will be, and you're already behind in this new world. Additionally, this new ecosystem also revolves around a DIY generation: We install our own smart home products; we do our own plumbing; we fix our own phones; and we, the consumers, make hardware obsolete.

{complink 2149|Fujitsu Ltd.} is one “victim” of this generation. At CES it showed a tablet that could be completely submerged under water. The downside: The tablet is much more expensive to buy, and if there are any cracks, it must be sent away for Fujitsu to fix. Meanwhile, a product like Liquipel is about $70 and does the same thing with a nano coating. A DIY solution vs. a hardware solution.

We've entered this new frontier because we've reached a tipping point in technology. When phones start having quad-cores it's time to admit the “device wars” are over. Other than some tweaking here and there with battery life and sound, how is a company supposed to differentiate itself? Enter, the digital ecosystem “wars.”

The companies at CES reacted to this switch-over in varying ways. {complink 5114|Sony Corp.} brought nothing new or interesting to the table in terms of hardware. Instead, it focused on its own ecosystem in an attempt to show consumers how its software is better than Microsoft's or Apple's.

{complink 3847|Nokia Corp.} reacted to this switch-over with a sigh of inevitability. The new ecosystem is narrowing in on the digital home, which the Android and iOS have completely covered. Nokia never made inroads into that market, so it's done the only thing it could to set itself apart and to keep fighting as one of the largest phone manufacturers of the world: It partnered with {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.}.

In the fight over you, the consumer, Nokia knows the ecosystem you'll chose eventually is the same one you'll ultimately use on your TV, your tablet, your smart home interface (which might be a gaming device, a tablet, a blu-ray, etc.), and your phone.

But maybe you've already chosen your ecosystem. Maybe, for you, the battle is already over. In which case, where is our Apple TV?

9 comments on “Battle of the Digital Ecosystems

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    January 19, 2012

    This is a very interesting debate. The digital ecosystems for homes, cars and offices are going to be the in thing no doubt. But will they remain proprietary -that one ecosystem will not able to accept the appliances from other manufacturer.?

    In my opinion the settling point for such ecosystems will be when they become open and interoperable. So you can have a mix of Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and Android gadgets and a totally open ecosystem for your home or your car to be able to accomodate all of them .

  2. Ariella
    January 19, 2012

      For those of us who didn't grow up with the Internet, the texting of the newer generation is confounding. Worse, today's toddlers are using iPads in the cradle, so in 10 years the gap will be even larger and more confusing.”

    I have to agree that I find texting confounding. However, it is embraced by some of my generation: some of my kids' teachers text them their grades on tests. It's true that iPads are being used in some kindergarten classes, though the practice has not been universally adopted. I find that, in general, the movement seems to be to offer more technology in schools, but that the schools don't really know how to use them well. For example, back when I took a foreign language, the teacher had to teach, and we had to do exercises in books. Now my daughter's teacher simply babysits the class while they're plugged into computers set to RosettaStone. There have been numerous technical difficulties and very little advance in acquiring the language.

  3. Houngbo_Hospice
    January 19, 2012

    It is true that CES is an opportunity for manufacterers to present their new inventions, but the trend at the CES2012 still was about touch screens and smart displays. This is not new per se, but rather the perfecting of existing technologies-kind of reshaping the old model.

  4. Barbara Jorgensen
    January 19, 2012

    I find it significant that Sony didn't bring any new hardware to the game this year. Talk about the king of content–just the movie and music rights alone are staggering. I'm not sure how Sony's content licensing works (or any, for that matter) but they have to have a big stake in the ecosystem

  5. Nemos
    January 19, 2012

    It doesn't matter how old are you and when you were born,  if you can be convinced of that new technology, it helps you in your daily life and in your work, you will adapt it, and you will learn how to use it.

    For the Digital ecosystem, I am supporting the “open” one (technologies' like android, etc.) and companies like Google.

  6. SunitaT
    January 20, 2012

    In my opinion the settling point for such ecosystems will be when they become open and interoperable.

    @Prabhakar_deosthali, very good point. But i dont think it will happen soon. I can't imagine Apple ecosystem supporting other devices. I think industry needs to come together and needs to define standards so that eventually these standards can be enforced on all the companies so that interoperability becomes a reality.

  7. SunitaT
    January 20, 2012

    It is true that CES is an opportunity for manufacterers to present their new inventions, but the trend at the CES2012 still was about touch screens and smart displays.

    @Hospice_Houngbo, Surprisingly this event is loosing its sheen. After Apple now microsoft has decided to stay away from this even in future. Its hard to know digest why big companies are shying away from participating in this event.

  8. Jay_Bond
    January 20, 2012

    I find it amazing that at such a large event as the CES, that the generational gap isn't narrower. To have panels of older people who don't understand the technology, or not willing to learn, seems ridiculous. The majority of the items being displayed are catered to the younger crowd, yet they aren't represented in the process.

  9. FLYINGSCOT
    January 23, 2012

    I thought “any function than can be done in software will be replaced by software” was a fundamental law of nature 😉

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.