Disruption by convergence. Here comes the iPad

Sometimes a totally new technology emerges and disrupts existing markets. This is where the mind naturally goes when talking about a disruption. Sometimes a disruptive technology succeeds and sometimes it does not. If you look carefully, the ones that succeeded were more a factor of convergence of multiple factors, rather than a single breakthrough.

I have a message to those naysayers on the iPad: You have no imagination, you have no vision, or you have an agenda.

Before I pontificate about the iPad, I’ll share a personal story: Last year I bought a Jeep.

I always wanted one with a top I could take off in the warmer months. Fun to park it anywhere half up a plowed-snow embankment; a side effect of Wisconsin winters. The one I got was bare-bones. It even has manual crank windows. No extras. Here is the kicker…it came with a free year of Satellite radio. Having never used Sirius or XM, it was a great experience. The fact that there is a 24×7 Springsteen-only station still boggles my mind. I love The Boss, but I was glad to have many channels to pick from. Soon I found that one of my favorite morning stations was the BBC. It is nice to get away from the ultra left and right of American talk radio. From the beginning of my subscription, I pondered if I would renew when my free year was up. I got attached to the BBC and a few other stations; It became habit.

My year of Sirius/XM just expired. I did not renew, but I did review my portfolio to make sure that Sirius/XM stocks were not present.

Admittedly, I am behind the cutting edge as it relates to Internet Radio (IR). I use Pandora occasionally, but IR is not part of my routine. It is not yet a habit. Satellite radio was habit, but I did not want to pay $12.95 per month. Why the discord with paying for a enjoyable service? I was raised on FREE radio. It just seems wrong to have to pay for radio.

Enter the Apple AppStore. I fired up my iPhone and found a whole list of Internet Radio applications. The average Internet Radio app supported about 30,000 radio stations from around the world. After trying a few Apps for $.99 to $1.99 I found one that I liked call TuneIn Radio. Yes, it supports the BBC, all the stations I wanted… and many, many others.

Naturally I asked myself the question: Why does anyone pay for Satellite radio and when they can just use Internet Radio? If it is Howard Stern, I am simply disconnected from the mainstream mod. If that is the case, stop reading. Is Howard Stern on Internet Radio? I’m not going to take the time to check.

The answer was not Howard. The answer is… that it is not super seamless AND simple. To make this work in my Jeep and would have to have my iPhone, charger, output cord and maybe a bracket to prop it up on my dash. In addition, the iPhone has a tiny little screen that is hard to interact with while I am driving. Maybe even hazardous. Most teens could hook this up easily. I’m a techie, so it is easy for me, but most people simply won’t do it. Additionally, most cars today don’t have an external input jack. That is changing, but it is not the norm.

What would make it super seamless AND simple?

(1) Improved connectivity. Bluetooth input for car radio. No cords, unless you want to charge it. Everyone understands charging

(2) Simple to use application: Done. 100’s of them on the AppStore

(3) Larger screen. Interface will be easier to work with while driving.

(4) Really good mounting. Not hard to do. I have one for my iPhone

As I was thinking about making my new iPhone powered Internet radio

Questions to ask:

Q: What are the convergence factors in moving from the iPhone/iPod to the iPad?

A: Bigger screen, faster processor, more memory, 140,000 applications

Q: Based on convergence factors, what did NOT work well on the iPhone, but will work on the iPad.

A: GPS applications: The screen was too small. Browser: Unless you have to, no one wants to read a webpage on a tiny little screen.

There are a whole set of possibilities that involve convergence on the iPad. For the nay sayers. Yes, right now the iPhone and Internet Radio is not a perfect replacement for Sirius/XM. On my drive to work, I get reception about 95% of the trip. Taking into account that I have spotty AT&T coverage and I live out near cow fields, I’m excited with 95% reception. Again, for the nay-sayers: guess what… connectivity is going to improve. Unless satellite radio does something stunning, it is going to be disrupted.

iPhone in my Jeep, Playing the BBC