There’s a weird attitude that seems to have greeted Nokia’s plan to offer gaming and music services for wireless devices through an online store called Ovi, one that enterprises that attempt a similar transition in IT-enabled business strategy should prepare themselves for: outrage.
The Globe and Mail called the strategy a “daring move,” but one that will be “certain to anger” some of its clients in the service provider space that already offer their own games and music. Nowhere in the article, or in much of the other coverage, did I see any mention of “convergence,” which may be a testament to how far we’ve come since the rah-rah, we-can-do-it-all days of the dot-com boom (or the pre-dot-com-bust, depending on how you look at it).
But isn’t convergence the best way to describe what Nokia is doing? In offering content along with a delivery mechanism, its plan is really not that much different than what AOL and Time Warner were trying to do in 2000. The difference is that Nokia does not operate a network but the devices that run on that network. Once inter-network roaming becomes more mature, however, the device may be the more appropriate point for convergence.
Now that we’re starting to get a better handle on how users will contribute to the Web, what they’ll pay for and what kind of expectations they have around accessing information, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more firms attempting a combination of content and delivery mechanism. It would be a mistake to assume that this will come down to Nokia vs. the service providers. The real question will be, in a 10-year period, who won’t be a service provider of some kind?