Renting vs. owning: A shift in content consumption

A recent Google+ post from Jeremiah Owyang read:

“You for rent: I can rent your HOUSE with AirBnB. I can rent your CAR with GetAround. I can rent your TIME and EXPERTISE with taskrabbit, crowdflower. What else can we rent in the future? What’s left?”

Owyang focuses on a shift in user behavior over the past couple of years: people no longer require ownership of their content – just access to it.

That’s a long cry from Steve Jobs’s discussion surrounding the iTunes Music Store in 2007:

“People want to own their music.”

Only six years later, Apple now offers iTunes Match which allows users to stream their music from any device, assuming it’s purchased through iTunes or resides on a home machine. Similarly, Spotify offers a seemingly-endless supply of music to its customers for a monthly subscription fee.

On the tube

RentLikewise, the television and movie models are shifting their business model from ownership to rental. Companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon provide content consumption without taking up precious space on your hard drive.

Even production companies are joining the fun. Without “ownership” of a cable box, folks can watch many of their favorite shows via a web site or app. The episodes no longer reside on a machine; rather, users stream content over the internet with relatively little setup.

On the horizon

Back to Owyang. What’s next? Magazines have slowly joined the movement, offering digital subscriptions – but mainly when the customer already receives a print version of the publication.

Instead of content, it’s commodities and services that are sure to see an uptick in “rentals.” Could there be a subscription-fee model for airfare? Or how about automobile maintenance? Will the book industry move to this model to service the millions of Kindles, Nooks, and iPads across the globe?

What do you think will come next in this world of renting?

EMA Boston

About EMA Boston

Boston's EMA office is a full-service technology marketing, PR and branding agency. Our B2B stories illustrate projects and campaigns in a variety of markets and media that range from local impact in Boston and New England to global proportions.

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Comments

  1. Nicolas Boillot says:

    There are already very effective models for renting flying-time, such as Net-Jets, and for renting car-time, such as Zipcar (“wheels when you want them”). Check out the estimated environmental impact Zipcar has already had at this page: http://www.zipcar.com/is-it/greenbenefits

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