Talk Shop Fridays: Convergence vs. Divergence

Posted on July 27, 2007 Under Life

This morning, on the way to the coffee shop where I write, I passed a young lady with headphones in her ears. A normal enough occurrence for a rainy Friday morning, but the feeling that something was terribly out of place plagued me until we finally passed at the walk light, when I saw that her headphones were attached to… a CD player. Also normal enough, right? Right? On paper, I think I could have taken that in without too much mental distress; why, then, should my brain subconsciously register a product (that still occupies a very valid amount of Target shelf space) as alien, or at the very least, unusual?

The success of the iPod is something we are all well aware of. However, how a product actually revolutionizes its category (or creates a completely new one), is something slightly less comprehensible. In today’s icky world of convergence vs. divergence, we are daily bombarded with poorly-contrived, “breakthrough” products that serve to complicate, not simplify, our lives. The ones that lose send us running back to our old standbys; the ones that win force us to move along.

Aside from the iPod, I can think of few products (in my lifetime, anyway) that have truly made their predecessors irrelevant. Excess is theme in the U.S. — no shock there — but what keeps the ball rolling is our pursuit of the next big thing. So, for today’s TSF, we’d like to know: is there any product at all, either currently in production or still undeveloped, that you see as potentially/realistically life-changing? Are you aching for a fridge/laptop combo? Hands-free Vespa? Are you sick of this crap?