The next Beatles

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-01-08 Print this article Print

? Convergence comes to music biz"> The GarageBand move is more than a little reminiscent of the arc the Beatles rode in the 60s. Or what the Dean campaign appears to be leveraging in the political world. Its 40 years later, and the Beatles still havent faded from the scene—nor has their influence and thought leadership in style, humor, politics and you name it. The Fab Four (with George Martins assistance) broke the back of the record businesss lock on the creative process of the day. They wrote, performed, recorded, filmed and marketed their material—and leveraged each new wave of success to bootstrap themselves into more and more control over each stage of the business process.
At CES, Gates showed what he hopes is an iPod killer, the Portable Media Center. It is only a prototype, but a raft of hardware partners promise to deliver products in the second half of the year. But Microsofts DRM model tends to limit (rather than inspire) the kind of next-gen content made possible by the iPod platform of tools and add-ons.
The convergence of consumer and enterprise technologies has reached the intersection point: the individual. Whether its digital video recorders, or personal media devices, or RSS information routers, or hub-and-spoke device architectures, the unifying principle is time management. As these devices, services and standards blur the boundaries of work and play, family and collaborative group, and office and virtual shared space, time-slicing becomes paramount. Thus the consumer platform becomes the vehicle for a technology to reach critical mass in the market, and with its commodity pricing allowing business applications and processes to climb on board. For example, the camera phone stimulates image creation, fostering ubiquity of format and incenting services to move the images around the network. As quality matures, so too do delivery systems, hosted services and packaged application-integration scenarios. Gates understands the need for synchronizing personal and professional data. On Wednesday, he demoed an MSN Premium feature that connects Hotmail and corporate Exchange accounts. But what users want is a common schema across all that data, combined with presence and location information from an IM stream, and a core engine that emits notifications and RSS streams to trusted subscribers. Users are converged. Jobs may see it. Gates may not. Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Messaging & Collaboration Center Editor Steve Gillmor can be reached at

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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