Hardware divergence and the digital divide

Before I forget, I wanted to make one comment about Convergence Culture that I never got around to in class. When Jenkins described the divergence of hardware, I found myself wondering about implications for the digital divide. We are seeing a bunch of new devices that do substantially the same tasks, at a variety of price points. We already know that the expanding market for smartphones means that people who may not be able to afford a computer or internet connection can at least get some access to the internet. If we continue to see new devices that perform a variety of tasks and they can be more easily purchased, perhaps the digital divide can narrow. I think that the hardware has to change for this to be really feasible, and the iPad and the other upcoming tablets that are getting a lot of press right now are one of the keys to enabling more people to get on the internet. But what price point is low enough for the market to really change? Maybe the cell phone model of purchasing hardware at a discount or free along with a contract would be the best way to get the devices in people’s hands.

One response to “Hardware divergence and the digital divide

  1. Edward Lee

    Even without talking about the digital divide, we as a society are caught in between because of the hardware divergence.

    For example, the war between VHS and Beta, and recently, HD-DVD and Bluray claimed a lot of consumer casualties. Sure, you can sit back and wait until one side is the victor but even so, there are going to be some platform cost associated with it. Just today, Warner Bros. is offering to trade up your DVD to Bluray (for a fee).

    Bleeding edge sure is sharp!