The future isn’t about owning things, it’s about leasing them

John Lennon once sang:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

And as it turns out, he may have been right in predicting the future. No possession is an old idea, that did not work quite well, when it was implemented by the communists. But believe or not, like it or not our world may be heading into that direction once again. This time not because of the communism ideology, but sheer and honest capitalism greed :) So how did that happen?

Our world is flooded with computers, their usage and production can shape the future of all production. In the last 20 years of software and hardware business it was all about owning the things. Having it physically. You wanted good graphics, you had to purchase good graphics cars and have it inside your PC. You wanted to play some computer game, another purchase, CD inside your drive, the same with music and films etc., you had to have this data on your drive to use it, there was no other way.

But as technological companies were more about money, and less about everything else. They’ve started to pushing the subscription service model. Fast broadband internet allowed streaming content to our devices. You don’t have to download the file anymore or purchase the game package with the CD inside, you just have to plug in to the Internet. That saves some costs, a lot o of them and it enables better cash-flow planning, because you can estimate how many subscribers will pay at the end of the month. But this is just the beginning, iPad and especially Kindle are showing the bigger picture. Because not only the content is outsourced from our devices, the hardware is also. The new Kindle Fire outsources some of the browser computing from your tablet to the cloud (oooh the cloud!).

So if the content and the processing hardware are outsourced from our devices, than we don’t need a new device model every other day. We just need one damn good and long lasting reception device. Can you afford one? I doubt that, but the collective can. And all you gonna have to do is carry your personal electronic ID (in form of a watch or smartphone) and connect it with every display you like, in bus, train, home or at the office. These displays will last much longer than a typical tablet. But they will only display, receive and send data input by you. Or it can be done in a way Google presented: glasses with HUD. The rest will be in the cloud.

This can work not only for the computers, there’s one more thing equally popular on this planet: cars. And the rising oil prices can change this market. Not everyone has enough money to afford personal transportation with today’s gas prices. Electric cars are very cheap to run, but expensive to buy. And again comes the idea of collectively sharing these units for the better account balance of all of us. Together we can afford more and better and for longer. Some people have already came upon and idea of using social media to share objects in the real world.

Now, this has some disadvantages. But it scares me at one point: CONTROL. Governments have already witnessed the year 2011, which made them realize the impact of the world wide web, personal transportation is another truly dangerous matter in terms of keeping the power. They will try to regulate and stop it as much as we allow it. And turning off a subscription service, 1 computing server for your tablets or rent-a-car system is much easier than controlling all of them separately. And don’t forget that all this outsourced data and processing is storaged on their servers. In one place (ok, I know it’s not just one company but still it’s very centralized)! Having everything your own gives you more freedom. You can listen to music and watch movies always, when you wish for it. Not limited by the service itself, with a choice of legal and illegal (sometimes read: antigovernment) productions. Your personal car gives you freedom in moving across the country. Today we see more and more struggle between citizens demanding more freedom and governments oppressing us with more control. I wonder if we will be able to afford our freedom. Our governments will certainly try to convince us, that we can’t afford the luxury of freedom.


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