McDonald’s techy service

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One example of convergence that I found quite interesting is McDonald’s and their use of interactive screen self service and tablets installed on tables for public use whilst eating.

In 2014 McDonald’s introduced a new way of ordering food in store, where instead of ordering food and drinks at the till, like someone normally would do, there are kiosks that have an interactive screen in place to order food off. Where I used to live they introduced the interactive screens without much notice so it was a big hit when it opened, it is a interesting way of convergence because they are using technology for self service, I know supermarkets ect… have had online delivery and self service for sometime now, also McDonald’s tills have had interactive screens for a few years but never for fast food self service.

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Some people argue that this new way of ordering fast food will take over the use of having cashiers resulting in some people loosing their jobs, but even with the interactive screens there are still cashiers at McDoanld’s, it is good to have both because it reduces the queues. Personally for me I find it quicker and more convenient to have this new way of ordering food in store and since coming to London I have used it much more.

McDonald’s also have apple tablets in place in some stores, where people can check in online on sites like Facebook whilst they eat or children can play games for entertainment.

McDonald’s technology article, Celestra

“Gangnam style” convergence

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If you look up what ‘media convergence’ means in the dictionary, you will find the following definition: a phenomenon involving the interconnection of information and communications technologies, computer networks, and media content. But this is a convoluted way of describing a much simpler process. Remember Gangnam Style? Yes? Now that’s a contemporary and an understandable example of what media convergence is.

The music video, which was revealed to the world on YouTube in 2012 in South Korea, not only gained extreme popularity in Asia but also managed to make the headlines worldwide. The hyperactive singer, the catchy beat and the obnoxious dance moves were in the spotlight of entertainment industry. From July to the end of December, the song became a household name.

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That, of course, meant the industry earned loads of money as “Gangnam Style” became a trademark and started merchandising. Bobble heads, t-shirts and phone apps became available to the consumers. The audience and specifically the online community, didn’t miss the chance to have their say on the story – parodies, reaction videos, and vlogs were all over the Internet.

So, not only did PSY become a story-telling money-maker but he also helped me understand what media convergence is. Cheers, PSY.

You’re a….convergence Harry!

No not just a wizard, but now a convergence, a global phenomenon. The Harry potter books, have not only spread across nearly all media platforms; but also demonstrates many examples of technological, cultural and economical convergence.

What started out as a book, has no been stretched not just into films, but has almost created culture in itself. There are audio books, toys, shops, online Harry Potter worlds set up, such as ‘Pottermore’ and soon to be theatre productions.  As well as companion books and films soon to be released, written by the original author J.K Rowling. Harry Potter has appealed to all ages, and audiences across the world. Demonstrated by the incredible fact that in 2013, two years after the last film came out; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, the book had been translated in 65 languages!

Another example of how Harry Potter has become a convergence is the Harry Potter studios, now in in London, Japan, and Orland, attracting millions of customers, allowing people to experience the Hogwarts lifestyle. The ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ theme park, at the Universal studios Japan, is by far the biggest, costing £260 million.

However, it is clear one of the biggest turning points for the Harry Potter conglomerate, was the development of Pottermore. Set up by J.K Rowling and in partnership with Sony, Pottermore allows fans to access unknown parts of the Harry Potter series, including several pages of  unpublished texts. Whilst also having a resource for sales of the e-book and audiobook version of the seven Harry Potter novels. Pottermore created an entire online community which allowed visitors to take the Harry Potter journey; creating spells and potions, collecting points for their chosen house. It made Harry Potter interactive, whilst still keeping it magical.Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 16.30.57.png

 

 

The Talented X-factor

So far what we can draw from Week’s 3 lecture and outlined in our reading ‘The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media’ by José Van Dijck, is that media convergence can be defined as an interaction between the old and the new forms of media. Basically in layman’s term, bringing the old into the new, sort of speak.

Thee best example of a media convergence would be the infamous international talent show. That’s right, X- Factor. Beside for its staggering popularity for the last decade or so, X-factor has manage to remain and prevail through the changes that digital media has generated. How it does it manage to do that you ask yourself?

 

Well, X-factor secrets lies in the series of ways it interacts with their audiences and for their audience to interact with them. The key was to use new media to connect and involve the audience by cleverly using the contest concept to get the audiences to vote for their favorite/preferred vocalists through their smart phones and iPads. The audiences also have the opportunity to call in, tweet and post their opinions on live TV and on other platforms, i.e. Facebook, Twitter. But mostly importantly X-factor usage of the emotional and personal backstory of their contestants on their website which creates an attachment or connection to the audience. Viewers are able read the stories and make comments and feedback on each contestants on the website. By having audience participation in this way, the X-factor creates an appearance for the viewers that they were not just merely audiences but also judges and friends of contestants and that their opinions and their votes do matter.

BBC One, Two… and Four?

The majority view media convergence as something beneficial, as it generally makes life easier for them. However, there are instances were convergence is detrimental, such as the ‘transformation’ of BBC Three to an ‘online-only’ platform.

Over the past year, the BBC have been slowly putting in to action it’s plan to cease BBC Three’s linear broadcasting, claiming they’ll ‘reinvent it online‘. Despite major opposition to the corporation’s proposal and a £120,000 consultation, the BBC Trust went ahead and approved it. Frankly, this wasn’t a big surprise as the channel covertly degraded the quality of it’s output as soon as the proposals were announced.

Whilst it could be argued that moving the ‘channel’ online is convenient for both the audience and the BBC; at the time of writing (two days after the closure) it appears they have substituted it with quite frankly nothing.  Essentially the corporation are clinging on to a brand they know works and redirecting the audience to it’s already existing platform, BBC iPlayer. The audience have been made to turn elsewhere, the only thing new is the over the top content, which consists of links to news article, blogs and short videos. The audience turn to BBC Three for traditional content, not something that can be found on Tumblr.

A mere 48 hours before the channel ceased broadcasting, it was revealed that the ‘new’ BBC Three and BBC Radio 1 might be merged. Is this what media convergence is coming to? Merging everything together, eliminating variety?

Technological convergence: Is the era of personal computers coming to an end?

In 2016, at this point, almost 10 years after the release of the first Iphone and six after the first Ipad came out (yes, we’re that old) we all realise how much time we spend on our smart devices. We’re all aware how much we need them, whether we are using them for serious purposes or just for entertainment.

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Yet, if we look at the figures, the stats are still surprising. Just three years ago a Nielsen study, conducted in the U.S, U.K and Italy, found that in all three countries people were spending more time on their mobiles than their PCs. Another interesting stat, is that TV still dominates overall monthly usage, although that could change in the future.

AVERAGE TIME SPENT PER PERSON BY PLATFORM

U.S. U.K. Italy
Monthly TV time spent 185 hours 129 hours, 54 minutes 143 hours, 20 minutes
Monthly online time spent 26 hours, 58 minutes 29 hours, 14 minutes 18 hours, 7 minutes
Monthly mobile time spent 34 hours, 21 minutes 41 hours, 42 minutes 37 hours, 12 minutes
Source: Nielsen

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The portability and practical convenience of these devices made them the real technological revolution in recent years, one that could mark the end of PCs.  According to the International Data Corporation, 87% of connected devices sales in 2017 will be Smartphones and Tablets. In addition, market share will be at 5%, whereas in 2013 it was 8.6%.

However, even if smartphones and tablets are more popular today,  PCs still play a relevant factor in our lives. The main reason is there are still things that a smart device can’t do. I prefer to use a PC to write essays, articles or for any other academic purpose.

I just don’t feel comfortable enough when dealing with a touchscreen keyboard and a screen smaller than 15″. Moreover, many softwares still require an actual computer. An example could be Adobe’s editing softwares as well as more elaborate video games that mobiles cannot yet support from both a technical standpoint and an overall experience one.

 

 

The Frozen Franchise Phenomenon

Media convergence is “the combination of new media and old media within a single piece of media work.” Disney owns many assets including: The Walt Disney Studios (inc. Walt Disney Record), Disney Mobile Studios, ABC Family, ABC Entertainment and Marvel Studios. This is an example of economic convergence. Utilizing a variety of different types of media allows access to a wider reach of the selected demographics, this leading to awareness and profit increases. Disney’s Frozen is a perfect example of a franchise which has used its owner’s media convergence and influence, to expand it from a movie to a brand.

The Frozen franchise stretches across all types of media including: video games, books, apps, music, YouTube videos plus planned features of Frozen characters in numerous television shows.

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The franchise’s success due to media convergence is reflected in its profits. As of September 2014, Frozen had achieved: $1.27 billion worldwide box office sales, $252 million in DVD and Blu-ray sales and $2.7 billion in music sales. To date, the ‘FROZEN – Let It Go Sing-along / Official Disney HD’ YouTube video has reached 688,346,884 views, whilst the ‘Disney’s Frozen “Let It Go” Sequence Performed by Idina Menzel’ YouTube video uploaded by Walt Disney Animation Studios has reached 513,536,222 views.

Media convergence means we are submersed in popular culture, encouraging branded merchandise to become omnipresent in our everyday lives. As shown by the example of Frozen, Disney has manipulated media convergence in order to increase sales.  This is applicable for other movie franchises such as The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

 

 

Bibliography

B, Bulik. (2014). How Disney has managed to keep ‘Frozen’ Red Hot. AdAge. Available from http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/disney-managed-frozen-red-hot/294757/. [Accessed 17 March 2016].