Everything as a service, own nothing

Posted by Jon Peddie on June 2nd 2017 | Discuss

What’s not for rent?

Do you remember when you leased your first car, or rented your first apartment? How about the first time you flew in an airplane or took a train trip? And do you know any company that owns their building? I think you get the idea where I’m going with this.

Why do we have to own anything? Think of the merchant fab model. And then think of AWS, Uber, and rent-a-bike. Don’t own stuff, just pay for it when you need it. You can even rent a super computer for those really tough problems that crop up every so often: Cray is offering HPC as a service. Why, you can even rent clothes, and if you think about it, you only rent food and drink. You don’t even own your pet. They get tired of your BS, or crappy food, and they’re out of here. 

The concept of ownership dates back to the struggle between the self-appointed royals and the people on the land. The strong took it, wrote history accordingly (often including a magical linkage to some imaginary deity), and then rented the land back to the original occupiers. That ridiculously unfair and brutal system created hundreds of wars, and the quest for ownership. It’s been with us ever since, even though in times of economic stress, poor people were referred to land poor, meaning they owned the land they lived on and nothing else. Today things have changed. You may be surprised about how many people rent a house instead of buying one, even though they could afford to buy one. The taxes (the royals in a new form), insurance, and maintenance, outweigh the ROI, when compared to other investment opportunities. And unless you’re interested in moving into a poorer neighborhood or state, and/or a smaller house, no one really makes money on their home if they live in it considering the cost of maintenance, wear and tear, taxes, mortgage, etc. House flipping is another thing entirely and comes with its own risks. 

So why own a computer, TV, bike, game console, or any of the stuff that helps us identify who we want you to think we are? 

If a computer is going to be obsolete in two years (it’s not just a good idea, it’s actually the law, thank you Mr. Moore), why sink a few thousand dollars in one if you could lease it? And if a PC, or TV, could be leased at the same favorable cost of cash terms as car can today, you’d be dollars ahead and always have a new to almost new computer—which we know you want anyway because the one you have has accumulated so much junk and upgrades it barely runs now as it is.

Lease today -  no money down!!

The process has already started in software. How many programs, the major programs you use to earn your living, how many of those do you, or your company own? Few to none I’d guess. You, or your company is simply renting them on a monthly basis. And why not? Like the terminally doomed PC you just got, the software you’re using is aging by the minute like a banana you accidently left in your desk drawer (or was it in your briefcase). Software is so undeniably unreliable it’s constantly being patched or, “upgraded.” There, says the software vendor, that ought to fix it this time, for sure, no really.
And what is the ultimate renting? You. You think you have a job—you don’t. You’re merely being rented by some company. And when you’re no longer useful, can’t be further patched or upgraded, well, the lease is terminated. Good thing you bought all those cars, boats, houses, PCs, and TVs, don’t you wish you had that money in the bank now? But you can sell them, right? Mabye not, if people aren’t buying stuff but only renting it. Why would they want your old junk when they can rent new junk, for less cash out of pocket?

You’re renting this report. When it doesn’t serve or amuse you—lease canceled, moving on. So we’re all just SKUs for rent. Oh please oh please don’t unrent me.

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