This first phase of convergence saw digitised content substitute progressively for physical content. It provided a stimulus for broadband adoption, was benign from a communications market perspective, and continues to drive a transformation of the music and video industries. The combination of smartphones and apps stores, with the launch of the Apple app store via an update to iTunes in July 2008, set the stage for the subsequent two phases of convergence.
The second phase of convergence involved social networking and communications services such as Facebook, which opened to the public in September 2006, and WhatsApp, which launched in November 2009, and rapidly evolved to include photo sharing. Like the first phase, content is digital in this phase, but networks of people and user generated content were now central.
The third phase of convergence has barely begun and involves a blurring of the digital and physical worlds, including peer-to-peer services such as Uber. Yet it may prove the most profound, as most economic activity is embedded in the physical rather than virtual worlds.
This paper explores how the policy issues for communications services and the information society may now lie predominantly outside the sector.