Technology used to be so simple

In the old days, you listened to music on your iPod while exercising. During an idle moment at the office you might use Google on your Microsoft Windows PC to search for the latest celebrity implosion. Maybe you would post an update on Facebook. After dinner, you could watch a DVD from Netflix or sink into a new page-turner that had arrived that day from Amazon.

That vision, where every company and every device had its separate role, is so 2011.

The biggest tech companies are no longer content simply to enhance part of your day. They want to erase the boundaries, do what the other big tech companies are doing and own every waking moment. The new strategy is to build a device, sell it to consumers and then sell them the content to play on it. And maybe some ads, too.

Last week’s news that Google is preparing its first Google-branded home entertainment device — a system for streaming music in the house — might seem far afield for an Internet search and advertising company, but fits solidly into an industrywide goal in which each tech company would like to be all things to all people all day long.

So Facebook, which has half of its users accessing it from mobile devices, has dabbled in phones and is said to be moving even more firmly in that direction. Apple, once just a computer maker, already gets most of its profit from mobile devices and is eyeing televisions, which would play content from iTunes.

Amazon created the Kindle Fire tablet, and there is intense speculation it is developing a Kindle Phone — a prospect that became more believable two weeks ago when Microsoft’s senior director of Windows Phone development, Brandon Watson, joined the retailer.

Microsoft, which has tightened its relationship with Nokia to again be a major player in phone software, has placed its Xbox in millions of living rooms as a home entertainment portal.

The pioneer — and perhaps the inspiration — was Steven P. Jobs, the late Apple chief executive who made creating devices look easy with the iPad and iPhone. Dream them up, then make the software complement the hardware, outsource the production, sell at a premium and watch your company become the most valuable on earth.

Who knows how the model is going to play out. Nobody knows yet. But if you aren’t building it today, then you aren’t winning in five years.

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About SCB Enterprises
System Solutions and Integration

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