For years now, the term ‘convergence’ has been bandied about as the ‘next big thing.’ The paradise envisioned has all media in digital format, and distributed from a central location to multiple devices throughout the home. The Web on your TV. TV on your PC. Music everywhere. Your refrigerator ordering food on the Internet. Your dog barking at cats in China. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

What’s happened convergence? It’s a sordid tale of tears and woe, and a lot of silly hype. That was a year ago. Now Tivo will connect to the Internet, as will XBOX. TV on a PC is possible, though you have to be a geek to do it, which is appropriate since you have to be a geek to care about it in the first place. These systems have one thing in common: they throttle the Web/Internet, only allowing a very, very small slice to converge upon your TV or stereo.

Now the next wave is poised to hit. Cable boxes will have more on-demand material, maybe some of which originated on the Web. And Apple’s entering the fray big-time with iTV. Will this be the next iPod? Well, with Steve Jobs claiming back in September 2006 that “iTunes is selling over one million videos a week,” that’s a serious possibility.

Now Google may provide video content for Apple’s iTV service. YouTube on your TV! If Larry King finally keels over during an interview, I can press a button and watch some kid dancing around with a fake light-saber without missing a beat. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Seriously, though, is this a good thing? Or is it more of the same — Apple using iTV as a tool to control access to the Web rather than open it up? Given Apple’s track record since day one of their existence, then you’ve got to think the answer is . . . control.