"... a vision for the convergence of media, entertainment and commerce ..."

-- From a Wall Street analyst's discussion

of USA Networks and its proposed acquisition of
Expedia and National Leisure Group.

K, class, today's word is convergence. Because this involves the concept of "coming together," we will begin this chapter with a brief review of the other key concepts that we have learned, to make sure we can bring it all together, so to speak.

Remember consolidation? Don't confuse that with today's word. Consolidation had to do with rolling up little bitty pieces to make one big piece, even if they didn't fit. That's not the same as convergence. Convergence is bringing together different ways of doing things, so that you can do everything -- or do one thing five ways. So this is different.

"Click, walk, talk," the subject of one of our earlier chapters, also is quite different from convergence. "Click, walk, talk" is about accessibility and consumer choice. Convergence is different, I think.

Also, do not confuse convergence with the concept of "high tech, high touch," which is what happens when click and talk, er, converge.

Disintermediation also is different. That's what happens when suppliers dis the intermediary.

Convergence creates new intermediaries, transforms old ones, and bypasses them at the same time.

Critical mass is another key concept that must be differentiated from convergence. Critical mass refers to the minimum amount of fissionable material required to produce a nuclear explosion.

Convergence is not about exploding, but about coming together. However, there can be no guarantee that a previous convergence will not result in a later explosion.

Now we may begin.

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